Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

A demonstrator carries a banner that reads "Vaccine For All! #CovidZero Global!" during a protest in front of Pfizer headquarters in Berlin, Germany on January 23, 2021.

A demonstrator carries a banner that reads "Vaccine For All! #CovidZero Global!" during a protest in front of Pfizer headquarters in Berlin, Germany on January 23, 2021. (Photo: Christophe Gateau/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

70% of People in G7 Nations Want Governments to Force Big Pharma to Share Vaccine Recipes

"Governments need to step in and force pharmaceutical companies to share their intellectual property and vaccine know-how with the world."

Jake Johnson

A new survey conducted by a global coalition of public health advocacy groups shows that an average of 70% of the people across G7 nations believe their governments should take action to require pharmaceutical companies to share vaccine formulas and know-how with the world.

"The public doesn't want Big Pharma to hold monopolies on vaccines that were developed largely with public money."
—Heidi Chow, Global Justice Now

Released just ahead of Wednesday's meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO)—where member nations will consider a proposal to waive coronavirus vaccine patents—the poll by the People's Vaccine Alliance finds that support for government action to compel the sharing of vaccine recipes is strongest in Italy at 82%, followed by Canada at 76%, the United Kingdom at 74%, Germany at 70%, and the U.S. at 69%.

"The public doesn't want Big Pharma to hold monopolies on vaccines that were developed largely with public money," Heidi Chow, senior campaigns and policy manager at Global Justice Now, said in a statement. "These vaccines are a global public good that should be available to everyone, everywhere. That much is obvious to the public across G7 nations, but political leaders are burying their heads in the sand while people die around them."

Despite widespread support among their populations for ending the pharmaceutical industry's monopoly control of vaccine production, none of the G7 nations have yet backed South Africa and India's proposal to temporarily suspend certain intellectual property rights that are standing in the way of efforts to ramp up manufacturing for developing nations.

If approved by consensus at the WTO, the patent waiver would allow generic manufacturers to replicate vaccine formulas without fear of legal retribution, which proponents say is a necessary step to meet global vaccine needs as coronavirus infections surge across the developing world.

"The horrific situation in India should shake G7 leaders to their core. Now is not the time for an ideological defense of intellectual property rules."
—Saoirse Fitzpatrick, STOPAIDS

"The horrific situation in India should shake G7 leaders to their core," said Saoirse Fitzpatrick, advocacy manager at STOPAIDS. "Now is not the time for an ideological defense of intellectual property rules. Bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies have not worked. Governments need to step in and force pharmaceutical companies to share their intellectual property and vaccine know-how with the world."

Experts have argued for months that after pumping massive public funding into the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines, the governments of rich nations have significant leverage to force pharmaceutical companies to share their technical knowledge with manufacturers around the world in the interest of increasing global supply and ending the pandemic.

"Vaccine manufacturers are currently hoarding technology, for commercial reasons," James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, said earlier this year. "Governments have to intervene, and they have the leverage to compel companies to share manufacturing know-how, not just within a cartel, but everywhere there are qualified manufacturers."

But rich countries have thus far refused to act on their leverage, leaving vaccine production under the control of pharmaceutical companies and buying up much of the artificially scarce supply for themselves.

Major pharmaceutical giants, for their part, have lobbied hard against any patent waiver and refused to participate in a voluntary technology-sharing initiative set up by the World Health Organization.

"It's time to waive the intellectual property rules, ramp up production, and put people's lives before profits."
—Anna Marriott, Oxfam International

"The sole reason these vaccines aren't being produced widely by other makers is because these companies don't want to give up their monopoly," Matthew Kavanagh, director of the Global Health Policy and Governance Initiative at Georgetown's O'Neill Institute, told the Los Angeles Times last week. "Instead, we put all the world's eggs into one basket. It's a tragedy."

According to WHO Director-General, just 0.3% of total coronavirus vaccine doses administered across the globe have gone to low-income countries. By contrast, people in high- and upper-middle-income countries have received 81% of the total doses.

"People are dying by the thousands in low- and middle-income countries while rich nations have jumped the vaccine queue," Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam International, said in a statement. "G7 leaders need to face up to reality. We don't have enough vaccines for everyone and the biggest barrier to increasing supply is that a few profit hungry pharmaceutical corporations keep the rights to produce them under the lock and key."

"It's time to waive the intellectual property rules, ramp up production, and put people's lives before profits," Marriott added. "It's time for a People's Vaccine."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo