Javier Fernández-Lasquetty on Liberty And Innovation In the Age Of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 health crisis has highlighted, on the one hand, the weaknesses in the way we have conceived our institutional systems over the last sixty years. On the other hand, how intervened and directed markets become particularly inefficient in times of crisis. 

Thus, of the many responses that we see every day, it is those that emerge spontaneously and freely that offer faster and more effective responses. Spontaneous order is once again the best response to the complex and petreus structure of the state.

The management of the provision of health material and medicines is currently one of the weakest points in our health systems, not because of its lack of effectiveness, but because of the slowness of response. This slowness is due precisely to the excess of control by the public authorities which, in many countries, has led to an intolerable slowness in the purchase of such basic products as means of protection for health workers. 

If the provision of means of protection is important, it is particularly relevant, due to the urgency, how to manage quickly and safely the new research and subsequent patenting of drugs and/or vaccines to stop the pandemic. 

In my view, attention needs to be paid to both aspects. The urgency of the search for a vaccine can lead to the emergence of black market suppliers due to the validation protocols and the various tests that any drug has to pass on the ordinary market, tests that can be ignored on the black market, or applied with less care. The problem with this is that, if adequate attention is not paid to the second aspect – managing research and patents quickly and safely – not only could serious damage be caused to people’s health, but also patents could be stolen to manufacture the drug in parallel markets outside medical controls, with obvious consequences. 

We believe that safety in the creation of drugs and vaccines must be particularly sought after by institutions, without distinguishing between public and private ones. This circumstance implies not only guaranteeing that they comply with the appropriate controls but also protecting the property in the creation of the same since, otherwise, research would be discouraged, particularly in the private sphere. Proceeding in this way would undoubtedly lead to difficulties in finding solutions to these medical problems by leaving out of the production circuit an important agent who, as has been demonstrated in the management of this health crisis, provides important and necessary assistance to the public sector.

It is not unreasonable to remember that times of crisis are times of opportunity, even in circumstances as serious as the present. It is in them that opportunities are found in the weaknesses of the system so that, with ingenuity and creativity, it can be improved and new opportunities for growth sought. 

It is necessary at this point to appeal to disruptive innovation. The best lesson that this terrible health crisis already leaves us is that only through spontaneous and voluntary cooperation, free creation and the absence of bureaucratic obstacles in the search for solutions we become efficient.

Javier Fernández-Lasquetty
Regional Minister of Finance. Madrid Region (Spain)
Former Regional Minister of Health. Madrid Region (Spain)

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Consumer Choice Center. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors is of their opinion.

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