67 Years Ago Today: Jonas Salk Announced The Polio Vaccine... And Did NOT Patent It

from the this-day-in-history dept

It seems worth noting a historical milestone today. 67 years ago today, March 26, 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk announced the vaccine for polio, and saved millions of lives. And this is notable given the current COVID-19 pandemic we're all living with. However, at a time when we're having to be vigilant for giant pharmaceutical companies sneakily trying to game the system to get extra exclusivity, and patent maximalists pushing for extended patent terms as an "incentive" to come up with a vaccine, it's worth noting the simple fact that he did not patent the vaccine. Indeed, in a TV interview with Edward Murrow, Salk famously said "could you patent the sun?"

Right at the beginning of that video you can see the famous exchange:

Murrow: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?

Salk (shocked face): Well... the people I would say. There is no patent... Could you patent the sun?

A few years back, there was an effort by a bunch of patent maximalists to try to recontextualize and minimize that statement. They made up things, claiming that it wasn't patentable in the first place (wrong), that there was too much prior art (nope), that because so many people had donated money to the research there was a general sense that "the public had already paid for the polio vaccine" and Salk patenting it "would have represented double charging." Of course, this is all ludicrous, when you recognize that most drugs today, including basically every current effort to deal with COVID-19, are also mainly paid for by taxpayer funds in the form of NIH grants and the like.

The key point, however, is that there are many different incentives -- and believing that locking up exclusivity in order to jack up the price of a drug or vaccine to obtain monopoly rents, is a silly idea that has no basis in real economics. Jonas Salk proved that in the 1950s and saved millions and eradicated polio. Anyone focusing on patents or other exclusivities in the middle of a pandemic like this is displaying wanton greed and a real misunderstanding of how incentive structures actually work. Today, Jonas Salk is correctly remembered as a hero. Any company looking to block out competition and charge monopoly rents for a treatment of vaccine to today's pandemic is rightly seen as a greedy profiteer.

The incentive structure for saving the world need not be that individuals need to pay tons of money to get it. Patents on drugs rarely make sense in even normal times. At this moment, they make no sense.

Filed Under: covid-19, drug discovery, incentives, jonas salk, patents, polio, vaccines


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 26 Mar 2020 @ 12:23pm

    I would rather die than be vaccinated for this. There is a tremendous amount of disinformation coming from the medical community over the corona virus and the vaccine for it. 

    Iceland claims to have identified at least 40 strains of COVID-19, stating that the virus will mutate and weaken to the potential fatality rate of the flu. The U.S. is claiming that there will be 4 or 5 strains that will not mutate and require a single vaccine, but the vaccine that Gates wants to develope is an RNA messenger vaccine, encoding the programmed immune response to the antigen into every cell within the body and encoded into each individuals RNA. This is unchartered territory. Let Gates, his family, the government employees and WHO and AMA sign up for the vaccine that they are attempting to extort vast quantities of money from the Federal Government using every person in America as their mandated income source. 

    People are saying that if the country isn't totally shut down with forced testing, forced vaccinations, and forced isolation that millions of Americans will die this year.

    Millions of Americans die every year. Death is  only guarantee that life offers.

    I propose that the fascists calling for these measures just spend the rest of THEIR lives in self-isolation protecting themselves from lifes risks, rather than forcing everyone else to pretend that before the coronavirus, nobody ever died in America, and that this is nothing but a failed attempt to cover-up financial failure induced by financial fraud!

    This is a financial problem that we must not allow to turn into a health problem! 

    $640 trillion in derivatives might be a clue that the math is off!
    Another clue that the math might be off is that Market Capitalization to GDP ratio went from the ridiculously high 110% at the end of 2016 to the insanity on hallicinogenics of 155% at the end of 2019, growing by 29% while GDP grew 2.25% during the same time frame. Another clue that the math might be off is that less than a dozen publicly traded companies now use GAAP. Another clue that the math might be off is the fractional reserve system itself! 

    Another clue that the math might be off is that the QE under Obama which led to zero interest rates caused a pension crisis, particularly for the federal, state, and local government employees whose pension plans suffered as a result of not earning interest and attempted to make up for the shortfalls through investing in risky stocks, explaining the sky high valuations. It had nothing to do with reality, and everything to do with refusing to admit that the entire economy is based on outright fraud! Until that is addressed, and the guilty parties are held responsible, the problems will only get worse! That is just the reality, and the reality is based on math!

    In 2002, Rockefeller suggested that the U.S. "prepare" for a pandemic, and so did Bill Gates and other Davos World members with Event 201 and ID2020.

    Israeli intelligence "warned" that there will likely be interference and terrorist acts that will interfere with the 2020 election, the same way that Netenyahu "warned" that the World Trade Towers "might" be attacked by "radical Islamic extremists" a couple of years prior to the controlled demolition of the World Trade Towers and attack on the defenseless, surveillanceless Pentagon, and the dancing Israelis.

    For the first time in income tax history, the government has delayed income taxes to protect their co-conspirators, the high rolling banksters who have once again gambled away customers assets since the repeal of Glass Steagall and the Graham Leach Bliley Act made it possible, in addition to the repeal of blue sky laws for tech start-ups in 1993 that was responsible for creating the Orwellian surveillance nightmare  on Main Street world that we now are forced to live in.

    The CDC shut down the Fort Detrick Bio-weapons lab in March of 2019 for failure to prevent repeated pathogen leaks. In October of 2019, the U.S. military participated in the Wuhan Military Games. The military has had a repeated history of using illegal and unethical medical practices on the military, veterans, and the general public. Gulf War Syndrome is proof that there still a tremendous amount of secrecy that has endangered veterans lives that the military is unwilling to admit to!

    I have never been to China, but as far as unclean eating habits are concerned, the U.S. homeless population dumpster dives and state and local governments have prohibited and shut down churches, charities, and businesses for feeding the homeless. So, yes, that definitely should be addressed for the sake of public health! BTW, imprisoning the homeless for dumpster diving is not the solution!

    San Antonio Texas has the world's largest bat cave population with 15 million Mexican free tailed bats, hosting tours and hikes at the Backen Bat Cave purchased by Bat Conservation International.

    Logic would place this as ground zero for the corona viruses that have been occuring in this country and throughout the world, then transported to Fort Detrick Bio-weapons lab to be used for population control in an act of domestic and international terrorism to prevent the spread of the truth about the fourth financial fraud induced economic collapse in 33 years.

    http://www.batcon.org/

    The Mexican free tailed bat is also referred to as the Brazillian free tailed bat. It was discovered in 2017 that the  species has had coronavirus A. Also worth noting is that coronavirus has not been detected in European or Asian bats.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5456339/?report=classic

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Christenson, 26 Mar 2020 @ 12:31pm

      Re: On dying...

      It sounds like dying is the choice you are making. Can you do us a favor and not drag any of us along with you when you go???

      And, do you want to get a court to enforce a corona-virus related patent right now? Even in Texas?? Oh my....the court is more likely to seize it for the greater public good.

      E.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 1:03pm

      Re:

      tldr, but I did not miss anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      I would rather die than be vaccinated for this.

      Then please hurry up and save us from your unintelligible rants, usually posted off-topic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 26 Mar 2020 @ 1:51pm

      Re: I would rather die than be vaccinated for this.

      You choosing to end your pitiful little life I don’t care about. But you becoming infectious before dying, and spreading that infection to others who didn’t want to make such a choice—that I care about.

      You cannot be permitted to become a danger to society.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 8:34pm

      Re:

      All right class - though school may be canceled, learning doesn't stop outside of the classroom.

      Who can share for us the name of the bad-faith trolling tactic this shit-for-brains spammer "Andrea Iravani" is using?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 8:36pm

      I would rather die than be vaccinated for this.

      Then perish.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 26 Mar 2020 @ 12:48pm

    I am warming up to "laundering"

    We probably all heard "parallel construction" de-euphemised as "evidence laundering". In a recent post I argued that using AI for sentencing guidelines etc for a more sciency approach is "bias laundering".

    Reading this article, I very much was struck by the creator of the Polio vaccine being an individual, a person with a conscience and civic responsibility.

    A corporation, in contrast, can execute pure unadulterated greed on behalf of its shareholders who feed on its anonymised profits without blame.

    In one word, "greed laundering". Ok, two words because English separates compound words with spaces. Compound laundering, I say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 12:54pm

    But what incentive would he have without a patent?

    If he didn't get a patent, then what could possibly explain why he would develop such a vaccine? What incentive could there possibly be other than unbridled greed? It doesn't make cents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 1:06pm

      Re: But what incentive would he have without a patent?

      Agreed, this is exactly how some people think.
      Thank goodness for people like Jonas Salk.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 3:56pm

      Re: But what incentive would he have without a patent?

      Altruism is profanity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 26 Mar 2020 @ 4:30pm

        Re: Re: But what incentive would he have without a patent?

        Altruism isn't profanity; it is a great and precious gift proferred by the gullible. It would be a real waste not to exploit it to its full extent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 4:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: But what incentive would he have without a patent?

          Your right, publicity for altruism is much more valuable than profit from a patent...except for the shareholders. A properly waged PR campaign could set an individual up for a long, long time. Profit will be pulled from a corporation by executives behaving arrogantly, and what they don't scrape out of cash flow will go to shareholders at the quarters end. Not very longstanding at all.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 7:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: But what incentive would he have without a patent?

          To quote a philosophy of the wise Dark Helmet: "Evil will always win because good is dumb"

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 26 Mar 2020 @ 1:44pm

    The main difference between then and now is that the pharmaceutical companies have learned that the government will happily let them be as greedy as they want to be and not only will they not lift a finger to stop them, many politicians will actually argue in favor of letting them do this. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 26 Mar 2020 @ 2:19pm

      Re:

      This is capitalism. The government would happily let individuals be as greedy as they want to be, too. It's just that individuals have shame and decency. That's why we need corporations in order to decouple individual shareholders from the company's responsibility towards society.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 4:49pm

    When one man can show how evil you are as an industry

    A few years back, there was an effort by a bunch of patent maximalists to try to recontextualize and minimize that statement. They made up things, claiming that it wasn't patentable in the first place (wrong), that there was too much prior art (nope), that because so many people had donated money to the research there was a general sense that "the public had already paid for the polio vaccine" and Salk patenting it "would have represented double charging."

    As always when you feel the need to lie to make your argument it shows that even you know that you're wrong. It is just so very telling that lies and attempts to re-write history are the first tool that people like that reach for when trying to convince people that they're correct, really shows how utterly groundless their position is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 6:14pm

    I need to correct your statement, Mr. Masnick:

    Anyone focusing on patents or other exclusivities in the middle of a pandemic like this is displaying wanton psychosis

    [My edits in bold]

    There, I fixed it for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 8:37pm

    In case anyone's curious for a fact-based evaluation about the basics of making a coronavirus treatment: https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/03/covid-19-the-biology-of-an-effective-therapy/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 26 Mar 2020 @ 9:26pm

    Junk science the day with humoral responses being revived from the dark ages in medical journals over m-RNA vaccines to humanized mice injected with tumors and human DNA and T-Cells, overlooking the obvious fact that it is still a mouse with the biology of a mouse, but someone is making a lot of money " humanizing " mice and studying " humanized" mice. 

    There was a Sci-Fi horror show called The House of Pain which sums up these modern Frankensteins quite well! 

    Who came up with this idea? The Mickey Mouse Club?!
    https://www.jax.org/news-and-insights/jax-blog/2016/march/why-humanized-mice

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 26 Mar 2020 @ 9:28pm

    Junk science rules the day with humoral responses being revived from the dark ages in medical journals over m-RNA vaccines to humanized mice injected with tumors and human DNA and T-Cells, overlooking the obvious fact that it is still a mouse with the biology of a mouse, but someone is making a lot of money " humanizing " mice and studying " humanized" mice. 

    There was a Sci-Fi horror show called The House of Pain which sums up these modern Frankensteins quite well! 

    Who came up with this idea? The Mickey Mouse Club?!
    https://www.jax.org/news-and-insights/jax-blog/2016/march/why-humanized-mice

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 6:33am

    67 Years Ago Today: Jonas Salk Announced The Polio Vaccine... And Did NOT Patent It

    And just last week Michael Slonecker lost his shit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 9:16am

    so, who's claiming it now then? RIAA, MPAA, Hollywood? who?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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