Monday, August 16, 2021

A Cartoon About Two Big Issues, Despite the Other Current Big Issues

We're currently deluged with immediate pictures of mass human suffering in Afghanistan and Haiti, while the larger crises of the covid pandemic and climate change continue to loom in their different time frames. 

Tom Tomorrow's most recent cartoon (published for posterity on the Daily Kos) deals handily with those larger two:

(Click the image to enlarge)

And in his weekly email, Sparky's List, he talked more about the vaccine patent waiver:

Amazingly, the United States supports a vaccine waiver, though many wealthy countries do not. Perhaps even more amazingly, Merck and Moderna are on board, while AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson continue to lobby against. My superpower is the ability to predict which part of the cartoon is going to earn me the most boneheaded replies — which is a fairly limited superpower, I acknowledge — and I’m pretty sure this is what it will be this week. People will respond as if this is not a widely-discussed idea for which many nations and activists are agitating, as if my cartoon is the first place they have ever even heard of such a thing, and they will lecture me about how it will “kill innovation” and “reduce the profit motive” and things like that.... And as this Forbes piece notes, the pharmaceutical companies don’t exactly exist in a vacuum:

"It is hard not to overlook the hypocrisy of companies that are balking at the idea of waiving their COVID-vaccine patents, but seemed quite willing to accept substantial government support for their research and development. The US government subsidized research and development for AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines. In an earlier article, I noted that Johnson & Johnson received $1.5 billion from the US government to develop its COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna received even more US government funds, a total of $2.5 billion, and AstraZeneca received $1 billion.

"What’s more, pharmaceutical breakthroughs are based not on single technologies, but on a body of work where one set of research builds on the other. In a recent paper by the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, researchers found that 97-99% of the R&D funding for the ChAdOx technology on which the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was built came from public sources, including governments and charities."

So yay, Moderna, for supporting the patent waiver after receiving taxpayer support, and boo to J&J and extra boos to AstraZeneca for being even more heavily subsidized and still being against it.

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