Is There A Vaccine Against Deliberate Misinformation?

Is There A Vaccine Against Deliberate Misinformation?Covid-19 vaccine - representative image (Twitter)
  • You know we need a vaccine against misinformation when a British newspaper finds a way to blame India for corona vaccines not reaching poorer nations.

A friend of mine brought my attention to this piece in The Guardian. It was aggressive. Nay, even vicious. It somehow manages to blame India for the vaccines not reaching poorer nations. I was nonplussed. I ran this past Dr. Vidyasagar, who is the Chairman of the COVID-19 India National Supermodel Committee.

This is what he had to say:

"One has to read the article carefully to find out that

(i) Oxford U. initially said they would allow anyone to manufacture their vaccine, i.e., “open source” it, and

(ii) on the advice of Bill Gates, Oxford U. then signed an exclusive deal with AstraZeneca, which in turn signed a deal with SII (Serum Institute of India).

So if Oxford U. had stuck to its original plan, there would potentially have been many plants around the world manufacturing the Oxford U. vaccine. So how is it India’s fault that Oxford sold an exclusive licence for its vaccine to AZ, which then failed to sign licenced production agreements with anyone other than SII?

BTW, please see this:

J&J was trying to manufacture its own vaccine in Baltimore, and had to destroy 15 million doses due to quality-related issues. Perhaps, this explains why, when The Quad decided to assign the manufacturing rights of the J&J vaccine to some company, they chose Biological E, another Hyderabad-based company. So it is not all that easy for other countries to replicate India’s vaccine production capacity and quality."

After he sent me this, I did my own reading. Please see this and this.

One of these articles had a reference to another article in Foreign Affairs published in March 2012 and the author makes an observation that is quite startling:

Power followed the money, and by 2005 the annual World Health Assembly, which governs WHO, was convening to listen to Gates’ suggestions, and today few policy initiatives or normative standards set by the WHO are announced before they have been casually, unofficially vetted by Gates Foundation staff…

This resonates rather disturbingly in the wake of the decision of Oxford U. to abandon its ‘common license’ idea:

….. Like it or not, the burden of reducing suffering and increasing the health of the world’s poor now falls largely on the backs of the two Washingtons. The Gates Foundation is doing extraordinary work, but it operates without accountability or transparency and needs competition. Bill Gates has admitted as much himself in multiple interviews, acknowledging that his efforts wield an uncomfortably large amount of unchallenged power over global health.

I doubt if this is an ideal state of affairs for the world:

The Gates Foundation, now combining the philanthropic assets of the Gates family and Warren Buffett, is responsible for 68 per cent of all private giving for global health, dwarfing the efforts of even the largest public or international institutions. And the United States government is responsible for 52 per cent of all public giving. No other donors come close.

(This piece was first published on Professor V Anantha Nageswaran's blog and has been republished here with permission)

V. Anantha Nageswaran has jointly authored, ‘Can India grow?’ and ‘The Rise of Finance:Causes, Consequences and Cures’


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