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WHO

The global organizations and populists who aim to seize COVID vaccine tech and IP

When Donald Trump claimed in September 2020 that every American would have access to vaccines by April 2021, his comments received scorn. The Washington Post said his claims were “without evidence,” CNN quoted health experts who said it was impossible, and The New York Times claimed it would take another decade.

Now, a year into this pandemic, nearly half of the eligible population has received at least one vaccine dose in the U.S., and distribution has been opened to every American adult.

Operation Warp Speed, which invested tax dollars and helped reduce bureaucracy across the board, has contributed to what has truly been a miraculous effort by vaccine firms.

While Trump’s proclamations eventually become true and the question of vaccine ability has been settled, there is now pressure on the Biden administration to turn over domestic vaccine supply to countries with skyrocketing cases.

On Sunday, the U.S. declared it will send additional medical supplies to India, currently experiencing the largest global spike in cases.

But at international bodies, countries and activist groups are petitioning for far more: they want to force biotech companies to waive intellectual property rights on vaccines and COVID-related medical technology.

Along with nearly 100 other countries, India and South Africa are the architects of a motion at the World Trade Organization called a TRIPS Waiver (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).

If the waiver is triggered, it would ostensibly nullify IP protections on COVID vaccines, allowing other countries to copy the formulas developed by private vaccine firms to inoculate their populations and play into the hands of future governments more hostile to private innovation.

This week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with the heads of the various vaccine makers to discuss the proposal, but it is uncertain if the Biden administration will support the measure at the WTO.

While many companies have voluntarily pledged to sell them at cost or even offered to share information with other firms, this measure would have more far-reaching implications.

This coalition seeking the TRIPS waiver includes Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and World Health Organization Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who first backed this effort in 2020 before any coronavirus vaccine was approved.

They claim that because COVID represents such a global threat and because western governments have poured billions in securing and helping produce vaccines, low and middle-income countries should be relieved of the burden of purchasing them.

Considering the specialized knowledge needed to develop these vaccines and the cold storage infrastructure required to distribute them, it seems implausible that any of this could be achieved outside the traditional procurement contracts we’ve seen in the European Union and the U.S.

That said, rather than celebrating the momentous innovation that has led to nearly a dozen globally-approved vaccines to fight a deadly pandemic in record time, these groups are trumpeting a populist message that pits so-called “rich” countries against poor ones.

Intellectual property rights are protections that help foster innovation and provide legal certainty to innovators so that they can profit from and fund their efforts. A weakening of IP rules would actively hurt the most vulnerable who depend on innovative medicines and vaccines.

If the cost of researching and producing a COVID vaccine is truly $1 billion as is claimed, with no guarantee of success, there are relatively few biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies that can stomach that cost.

BioNTech, the German company headed by the husband-wife team of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci that partnered with Pfizer for trials and distribution of their mRNA vaccine, was originally founded to use mRNA to cure cancer.

Before the pandemic, they took on massive debt and scrambled to fund their research. Once the pandemic began, they pivoted their operations and produced one of the first mRNA COVID vaccines, which hundreds of millions of people have received.

With billions in sales to governments and millions in direct private investment, we can expect the now-flourishing BioNTech to be at the forefront of mRNA cancer research, which could give us a cure. The same is true of the many orphan and rare diseases that do not otherwise receive major funding.

Would this have been possible without intellectual property protections?

Moderna, for its part, has stated it will not enforce the IP rights on its mRNA vaccine and will hand over any research to those who can scale up production. The developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have pledged to sell it at cost until the pandemic is over.

While this should smash the narrative presented by the populists and international organizations who wish to obliterate IP rights, instead they have doubled down, stating that these companies should hand over all research and development to countries that need them.

If we want to be able to confront and end this pandemic, we will continue to need innovation from both the vaccine makers and producers who make this possible. Granting a one-time waiver will create a precedent of nullifying IP rights for a host of other medicines, which would greatly endanger future innovation and millions of potential patients.

Especially in the face of morphing COVID variants, we need all incentives on the table to protect us against the next phase of the virus. 

Rather than seeking to tear them down those who have performed the miracle of quick, cheap, and effective vaccines, we should continue supporting their innovations by defending their intellectual property rights.

Yaël Ossowski (@YaelOss) is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

Michael Bloomberg propels the WHO’s nanny state mission creep

Michael Bloomberg may have a domestic reputation as a tough-talking, three-term big-city mayor who blew hundreds of millions on a doomed presidential campaign, but around the world, his money talks.

For years, his charity Bloomberg Philanthropies has dispensed billions of dollars to global causes near and dear to the billionaire’s heart: climate change, public health, education, and the arts. As a result, in the developing world, Bloomberg’s private giving has propelled him into a kind of swashbuckling private government.

When he banned large sodas in New York City, he was only getting started. “Mayor Big Gulp” has global ambitions. Whether in Japan, India, Peru, or the Philippines, Bloomberg’s dangling of free money has led to jacking up tax rates on consumer products such as sodas and cigarettes, providing intellectual rigor for harsh bans and restrictions on alcohol and vaping devices, and coaxing health ministers to accept advertising restrictions on children’s cereals.

Thanks to his nanny state war chest, Bloomberg was named this week to a third term as the World Health Organization’s “Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries,” a mission he has personally funded for several years. While Bloomberg’s recent investments into COVID-19 response and research are laudable, his decadeslong mission to export the nanny state abroad via the WHO’s soft power is damaging, not to mention paternalistic. And the WHO has helped sow the seeds for the current pandemic more than we know.

The WHO has always been a bloated bureaucracy with sky-high luxury travel costs and an allergy to serious reform. But it was WHO’s failures in the 2013 Ebola outbreak that began to shed light on how it had lost its way. The organization admitted as much just six years ago. The Ebola outbreak “served as a reminder that the world, including WHO, is ill-prepared for a large and sustained disease outbreak,” it declared.

While inefficiency was the main culprit, it is not difficult to see how the WHO has been unfocused along. The mission creep of the WHO, focusing more on soda taxes and making e-cigarettes illegal in third-world countries, all funded by Bloomberg’s initiatives, helps explain the tepid response to the breakout of the coronavirus in China, which led to President Donald Trump withdrawing the United States from the health body in 2020. President Biden reversed that decision in his first days in office, without so much as a polite request for reform.

The various missteps of the WHO in the run-up to the pandemic, coupled with its wavering mission to protect us from global disease outbreaks, is a principal reason why we should oppose Bloomberg’s global nanny state expansion. Even now, Bloomberg’s charity is funneling millions into the health agencies of countries such as the Philippines and India, all in exchange for specific bans and consumer product restrictions, which have called into question the influence of the billionaire’s reach. That led Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cut off some of Bloomberg’s purse strings in 2014 and has sparked recent investigations into Bloomberg’s shady donations to the Philippines’ FDA.

These actions are not only praised by the WHO but are facilitated and made necessary to receive any future funds. That is where the WHO is leading us astray. Rather than equipping doctors and health systems to fight the next pandemic, Bloomberg’s deep pockets deputize the WHO as a global police officer enforcing soda taxes, tobacco bans, and restrictions on vaping devices in the developing world.

Bloomberg’s global nanny mission creates problems for public health, and it is even more worrying for the prospect of a global disease outbreak that would make COVID-19 lockdowns look painless.

Yaël Ossowski (@YaelOss) is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

Originally published here.

WHO Seeks $1 Billion Funding Boost from International Governments

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Thursday it is ready to launch an appeal for more than $US1 billion to underwrite operations against the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes the pandemic needs a whole-of government and society response, and to that end is seeking a new funding lifeline outside its existing United Nations funding stream.

It follows a similar WHO call in February which sought $675 million in “special, one-off funding” to deliver two months worth of direct aid to China and international agencies.

Now it is back again and asking for more.

“For the past 100 days, our unwavering commitment has been to serve all people of the world with equity, objectivity and neutrality. That will continue to be our sole focus in the days, weeks and months ahead,” Dr Tedros said.

The appeal and strategy plan will commence in coming days, Reuters reports.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus@DrTedros · Replying to @DrTedros

Our focus has been on working with countries & partners to bring the world together to confront this common threat together.
We’ve been especially concerned with protecting the world’s poorest & most vulnerable, not just in the poorest countries, but in all countries. #COVID19Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus@DrTedros

Although much has changed since we launched the first #COVID19 Strategic Preparedness & Response Plan two months ago, these five pillars will continue to be the foundation of our work in the fight against the #coronavirus.414Twitter Ads info and privacy159 people are talking about this

The WHO financial plea comes against a backdrop of controversy after U.S. President Donald Trump criticised the organisation over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and suggested his administration might re-evaluate U.S. funding.

Trump accused WHO of being “China-centric” and criticised its many missteps, nothing it responded to the virus very slowly and appeared deferential to China’s wishes in all its dealings, as Breitbart News reported.Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?468KTwitter Ads info and privacy195K people are talking about this

The United States remains the biggest single overall donor to the globalist body, contributing more than $400 million in 2019 to the agency, roughly 15 percent of its budget.

In comparison, China’s contribution was about $44 million.

The WHO appeal for funding came within 24-hours of Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group, launching its own campaign to defund it.

President Trump’s decision speaks to the larger inefficiencies and issues of transparency and accountability that have plagued the World Health Organization in recent years,” Yaël Ossowski, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, said in a statement he distributed to the press.

“While the failures of the WHO have only recently gotten publicity, this has been a long time coming,” Ossowski said.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Laws Passed in Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s now springtime in the northern hemisphere, and we’re now several weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic.

As consumer advocates, our job has never relinquished: we’re there to closely monitor regulatory trends in major capitals to inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice.

With governments scrambling to protect its citizens, we’ve seen an unprecedented push to both pass and repeal laws in order to better fight against the virus. Some have been greatly beneficial to consumer choice, while others leave us scratching our heads.

Here’s a list of some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly laws we’ve seen around the world.

Providing Healthcare

The Good

Massachusetts and other American states are removing regulations that prohibit medical professionals from practicing in other states

The United Kingdom has removed regulations that limited the quick production and shipping of medical supplies for its health professionals.

The U.S. relaxed rules on what can constitute a hospital, as makeshift healthcare facilities have sprung up around the country. It also has allowed more telemedicine, which was previously severely limited.

New York State has opened up its recommendation process for prescription drugs, allowing patients to have more choice.

The Bad

Early on, the Centers For Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration monopolized and centralized all testing, slowing down the initial response to the growing number of cases in multiple jurisdictions.

The Ugly

The Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated companies sold tests later determined to be faulty to countries including Spain and the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic, for example, 80% of the tests were found to not work in the slightest.

Alcohol Delivery

The Good

Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces legalized alcohol delivery and takeout options for restaurants and bars, helping to keep these stores in business while they’re forced to shut down their physical presence. This includes jurisdictions that previously did not allow for alcohol delivery.

The Bad

The Commonwealth of Pennslyvania closed all liquor stores in response to the coronavirus. Because the state maintains a monopoly on liquor, that means no Pennlsyvania residents are able to acquire liquor at this time. This has pushed thousands to visit neighboring states to purchase their booze.

In New Jersey, several liquor stores have been totally emptied by Pennsylvania residents alone!

The Ugly

South Africa has banned all alcohol sales until at least April 16th. Greenland followed the same blanket ban until the same date.

Surveillance and Technology

The Good

The FCC’s Keep America Connected Pledge has garnered the support of more than 60 companies committed to raising broadband speeds, removing all data caps, and providing better service during the pandemic. That means there will be no forced reduction of quality as is being mandated in the European Union via its net neutrality rules.

Germany will soon issue coronavirus “immunity certificates” to indicate who has recovered from the virus and is ready to re-enter society.

The Bad

Israel passed an emergency measure to allow the government to track mobile phone data in order to track the spread of the coronavirus.

Dozens of other countries are using mobile phone data secured from ad agencies to track the movements of citizens and to enforce social distancing. Over 500 U.S. cities are now tracking its residents.

The Ugly

South Africa will allow 10,000 field workers to “check up on people in the homes” if they have coronavirus.

Countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, and Myanmar have resorted to shutting down the Internet in the wake of the pandemic.

When the crisis first began in China, its forces shut down and jailed journalists and doctors who warned about the spread of the disease. It has been labeled a cover-up.

Rule of Law

The Good

In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has reluctantly passed some restrictions, but wants to keep citizens free to come and go to ensure their freedoms during this time.

“And even if that were possible in practice – making people stay in their homes unless they have permission to go outside, for such a lengthy period – the virus could simply rear its head again once the measures were lifted. The Netherlands is an open country.”

The Bad

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to be tried on corruption charges, but due to the coronavirus, he shut down all courts and thus will still avoid a verdict.

The Ugly

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a vote that will allow him to rule by decree, without opposition nor elections, with no end date. This effectively erases the rule of law.

Do you have other examples? Write to us at info@consumerchoicecenter.org.

The World Health Organization fails us again: This time Coronavirus

Fred Roeder, Health Economist and Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center

Last week when visiting Davos during the World Economic Forum, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, casually walked down the main street of the small alpine town without a worry in his face. At that moment, his organization saw  no international threat in the Chinese-originating coronavirus. This was despite worrying reports from China and questionable legitimacy of the official numbers provided by the Chinese Communist government.

Since then, the WHO has apologized and corrected their initial assessment. The virus is now seen as a high risk to the East Asian region and globally. 

History is repeating itself once more During the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014, it took the WHO months to finally declare an emergency. They were too tied up in fighting non-communicable diseases. 

The most important task, and the founding reason, of the WHO should be combating international diseases and coordination of rapid crisis responses. But unfortunately the Geneva-based agency spends much of its time with topics such as road safety, secondhand smoke, vaping, and the renovation of their own offices.

Next week the body’s executive board will convene from February 3rd-8th. Instead of revamping their agenda and fully focusing on how to contain the coronavirus, the current agenda prioritizes many other points before dealing with an international crisis response.

While our taxes should be spent on keeping us safe from this virus, the WHO’s board will instead spend the first couple of days discussing ideological ideas of universal healthcare reforms in emerging markets and how to limit patents of pharmaceutical companies. This is apparently more important for an agency that spends 10% of its 2 billion annual budget than figuring out how to effectively combat killer viruses. 

Once you scroll down the agenda of the meeting, you will finally find crisis response next to topics such as ‘aging in health’ and ‘renovation of the WHO Headquarters’.

So instead of putting the very real and scary threat of the Coronavirus first, the board members will prioritize how to limit incentives for the private sector to come up with treatments and vaccinations for the virus. Scrapping patents and limiting intellectual property rights are key pillars of the WHO’s priorities these days. Limiting patents is seen as a solution to curb health costs in emerging markets. For the international governmental organization, this seems to be an easier way than actually calling out their member states who often increase drug prices by 10-40% through import taxes and sales taxes paid by patients.

Chinese patients alone pay over 5 billion dollars a year on tariffs for drugs they import. In times of a massive health crisis in China, the WHO should urge the Chinese government to drop all of these tariffs momentarily.

After the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the private sector quickly reacted and several companies developed and delivered Ebola-vaccines at the same time. Now we need a similarly quick response for the coronavirus. Therefore, the WHO should not limit the innovative potential of the pharmaceutical industry but encourage them to invest in finding vaccines.

The coronavirus has already taken too many human lives and the situation will worsen. International trade and the global economy can also easily take a massive hit from a worsening situation. Instead of debating how to make the WHO’s offices better looking for natural light, its board should focus 100% on how to contain and combat the coronavirus. That’s priority number one.

Over and over, we see how the WHO fails to respond in an accurate and timely manner to such pandemics. It is high time for the agency to focus on its core mission: Protecting us from trans-national diseases.

Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels

Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels

“BACON…, HOT COFFEE…, RED MEAT…, COCONUT OIL…
WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?

You’ve may have thought: THEY’RE DELICIOUS. 
WRONG.

According to the World Health Organization’s INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER (IARC), all these foods “PROBABLY” or “POSSIBLY” can give you cancer.

Each year, this France-based agency published new studies known as monographs claiming to establish what is carcinogenic. So far, they’ve listed over 500 substances as DEFINITELY or POTENTIALLY carcinogenic, including your morning cup of coffee and the herbicide you use in your garden. In 48 years, they’ve only found one – JUST ONE – that isn’t.

These declarations have a sweeping impact not only on the products on the shelves, and how they’re regulated and taxed, but also the billions of dollars of lawsuits against these products.

CAN YOU SAY PAYDAY?

This is where science is trumped by money and lawyers.

IARC willfully confuses the relationship between “hazard” and “risk”. Hazard is something that can cause harm, risk explains how likely it is that it will. The sun is a hazard, because exposure to it can cause skin conditions. However, to most people the sun is not a risk, because they limit their exposure in summer, or apply sun cream. As with EVERYTHING ELSE, it’s a question of dosage.

For example, in 2016 the Munich Environmental Institute cast doubt on the safety of beer, claiming it can cause cancer. What they left out was that you needed to drink 1000L of beer a day for it to actually be harmful to health. Arguably, after 1000L of beer, the fact that it might be carcinogenic will be the least of your problems.

IARC STUDIES ARE LIKE A BAT SIGNAL TO THOUSANDS OF TORT LAWYER FIRMS.

What these experts conclude, therefore, becomes scientific dogma, regardless of the science.

WHY IS THIS PROBLEMATIC?

Experts at IARC have often been caught colluding with lawyers who stand to benefit from future lawsuits.

In the case of BENZENE and GLYPHOSATE, they have been accused of manipulating the science to arm trial lawyers. Researches have been ringing the alarm on IARC’s corruption of science for years.

That means hundreds of bogus lawsuits, bad public policy and bad information for consumers.

WHO BENEFITS WHEN SCIENCE IS CORRUPTED? 

LET’S UPHOLD SCIENCE RATHER THAN POLITICS. BECAUSE WE DESERVE BETTER


FOR MORE ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH, CLICK HERE.

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