Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests
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Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. (Reuters/File)
Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests
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Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests
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Updated 04 July 2020

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests

DHAKA: The only way to contain the coronavirus pandemic is to have COVID-19 vaccines free from commercial interests, Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus told Arab News in an exclusive interview, as over 100 statesmen, academics, activists and religious leaders joined his campaign to declare coronavirus vaccines a global common good.
“I believe that, ultimately, the only way to definitively eradicate the pandemic is to have a vaccine that can be administered to all inhabitants of the planet,” Yunus said. “The effectiveness of the upcoming vaccination campaign will depend on its universality. To ensure the availability of the vaccines to all people on the planet almost at the same time, it has to be free from ownership.”
Vaccine research requires huge investments and many laboratories in the private sector are engaged in it. Yunus urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to design an action plan to put the vaccine into the public domain.
“To do so we intend to make a global pharmaceutical social business operational as soon as possible. I am looking for partners to help us achieve this goal,” said the economist, who pioneered tiny loans for village entrepreneurs as a way to fight poverty.
The “Declare COVID-19 Vaccine a Global Common Good Now” campaign launched by Yunus on Sunday has already gained the support of 19 Nobel Prize laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Iranian political activist and lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Poland’s first democratically elected president Lech Walesa, British molecular biologist Sir Richard John Roberts, and former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev.
Yunus said he was expecting a huge response from global leaders to ensure that, in the case of a COVID-19 vaccine, there would be consensus for free universal access. He warned that this would not happen as long as the vaccine remained a commercial product owned by companies.
“It has to be freed from commercial interest. The polio vaccine was declared as a common good, not owned by anybody. Why not (have) the corona vaccine follow the same path?”
As of Friday, 112 former presidents, prime ministers, business leaders, artists and social activists joined his mission. Everyone can support the initiative through the website www.vaccinecommongood.org.
More than 11 million people around the world have contracted COVID-19 since late December. The disease has already claimed 524,700 lives.