Is news worth a lot or a little? Google and Facebook want to have it both ways


Tim Dwyer, University of Sydney

Executives from Google and Facebook have told a Senate committee they are prepared to take drastic action if Australia’s news media bargaining code, which would force the internet giants to pay news publishers for linking to their sites, comes into force.

Google would have “no real choice” but to cut Australian users off entirely from its flagship search engine, the company’s Australian managing director Mel Silva told the committee. Facebook representatives in turn said they would remove links to news articles from the newsfeed of Australian users if the code came into effect as it currently stands.




Read more:
Expect delays and power plays: Google and Facebook brace as news media bargaining code is set to become law


In response, the Australian government shows no sign of backing down, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg both saying they won’t respond to threats.

So what’s going on here? Are Google and Facebook really prepared to pull services from their Australian users rather than hand over some money to publishers under the bargaining code?

Is news valuable to Facebook and Google?

Facebook claims news is of little real value to its business. It doesn’t make money from news directly, and claims that for an average Australian user less than 5% of their newsfeed is made up of links to Australian news.

But this is hard to square with other information. In 2020, the University of Canberra’s Digital News Report found some 52% of Australians get news via social media, and the number is growing. Facebook also boasts of its investments in news via deals with publishers and new products such as Facebook News.

Google likewise says it makes little money from news, while at the same time investing heavily in news products like News Showcase.

So while links to news may not be direct advertising money-spinners for Facebook or Google, both see the presence of news as an important aspect of audience engagement with their products.

On their own terms

While both companies are prepared to give some money to news publishers, they want to make deals on their own terms. But Google and Facebook are two of the largest and most profitable companies in history – and each holds far more bargaining power than any news publisher. The news media bargaining code sets out to undo this imbalance.

What’s more, Google and Facebook don’t appear to want to accept the unique social role of news, and public interest journalism in particular. Nor do they recognise they might be involved somehow in the decline of the news business over the past decade or two, instead pointing the finger at impersonal shifts in advertising technology.

The media bargaining code being introduced is far too systematic for them to want to accept it. They would rather pick and choose commercial agreements with “genuine commercial consideration”, and not be bound by a one-size-fits-all set of arbitration rules.




Read more:
Changing the rules to control monopolies could see the end of Facebook domination


A history of US monopolies

Google and Facebook dominate web search and social media, respectively, in ways that echo the great US monopolies of the past: rail in the 19th century, then oil and later telecommunications in the 20th. All these industries became fundamental forms of capitalist infrastructure for economic and social development. And all these monopolies required legislation to break them up in the public interest.

It’s unsurprising that the giant ad-tech media platforms don’t want to follow the rules, but they must acknowledge that their great wealth and power come with a moral responsibility to society. Making them face up to that responsibility will require government intervention.

Online pioneers Vint Cerf (now VP and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google) and Tim Berners-Lee (“inventor of the World Wide Web”) have also made submissions to the Senate committee advocating on behalf of the corporations. They made high-minded claims that the code will break the “free and open” internet.




Read more:
Web’s inventor says news media bargaining code could break the internet. He’s right — but there’s a fix


But today’s internet is hardly free and open: for most users “the internet” is huge corporate platforms like Google and Facebook. And those corporations don’t want Australian senators interfering with their business model.

Independent senator Rex Patrick hit the nail on the head when he asked why Google wouldn’t admit the fundamental issue was about revenue, rather than technical detail or questions of principle.

How seriously should we take threats to leave the Australian market?

Google and Facebook are prepared to go along with the Senate committee’s processes, so long as they can modify the arrangement. The don’t want to be seen as uncooperative.

The threat to leave (or as Facebook’s Simon Milner put it, the “explanation” of why they would be forced to do so) is their worst-case scenario. It seems likely they would risk losing significant numbers of users if they did so, or at least having them much less engaged – and hence producing less advertising revenue.

Google has already run small-scale experiments to test removing Australian news from search. This may be a demonstration that the threat to withdraw from Australia is serious, or at least, serious brinkmanship.

People know news is important, that it shapes their interactions with the world – and provides meaning and helps them navigate their lives. So who would Australians blame if Google and Facebook really do follow through? The government or the friendly tech giants they see every day? That’s harder to know.


For transparency, please note The Conversation has also made a submission to the Senate inquiry regarding the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.The Conversation

Tim Dwyer, Associate Professor, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coronavirus Update


General

Australia

New Zealand

Spain

Israel

USA

Not sure about the Pfizer vaccine, now it’s been approved in Australia? You can scratch these 4 concerns straight off your list


Archa Fox, University of Western Australia

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has today provisionally approved Australia’s first COVID vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, paving the way for its rollout to begin in mid-to-late February among high-risk groups.

Two doses will be required, at least three weeks apart. The vaccine can be given to people 16 years and older.

The Pfizer vaccine is based on mRNA technology, a way of giving the body the genetic instructions it needs to make the coronavirus spike protein. The idea is to prime your immune system to mount a protective immune response if you encounter the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As this is the first mRNA vaccine to be approved for humans, some people have taken to social media to voice their concern. But you can strike these four myths about mRNA vaccines straight off your list.

Myth 1: they enter your DNA and change your genome

Our genome is the complete set of instructions for making all the molecules our cells need to function. Our genome is made of DNA, a different type of molecule to the RNA in the mRNA vaccines. It’s generally not possible for RNA to become part of our genome.

The myth of mRNA vaccines modifying genomes may have surfaced as some types of RNA retroviruses, such as HIV, contain genes that make a protein called “reverse transcriptase”.

A retrovirus is a type of virus that inserts a copy of its RNA genome into the DNA of a host cell it invades, therefore altering the genome of that cell. Taking the example of HIV, reverse transcriptase can convert the HIV RNA into DNA, so the HIV genes can enter our genome.

But SARS-CoV-2 is not a retrovirus and the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines don’t make reverse transcriptase. They only contain one gene: the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 viral spike protein.




Read more:
Explainer: what is RNA?


So, the only way the COVID-19 vaccine mRNA might enter your DNA is if you were unlucky enough to be infected at precisely the same time with HIV, or another kind of retrovirus, and this virus was active for the few short hours the vaccine mRNA was present in your cells. The chances of this happening are vanishingly small.

Unlike DNA, mRNA doesn’t last long in our cells. The mRNA lasts just long enough to instruct the cell to make viral spike protein, but will then break down, like all the other thousands of mRNA molecules our cells make all the time.

Myth 2: they connect you to the internet

The Pfizer mRNA vaccine contains a piece of mRNA which is coated in a lipid (fatty) droplet. The lipid helps the vaccine enter our cells, as the membrane holding our cells together is also made mostly of lipid. The vaccine and the membrane can fuse easily, depositing the mRNA inside the cell.

Some other companies, developing different mRNA vaccines, are exploring mixing their vaccines with materials called “hydrogels”. The hydrogels might help disperse the vaccine slowly into our cells.

Bioengineers have used similar hydrogels for many years in different ways. For instance, they’ve used them to help stem cells survive after being put inside our bodies.

The use of hydrogels for these stem cell (and other) implants has created a myth they’re needed for electronic implants, which can be linked to the internet. Conspiracy theorists have jumped from implants to hydrogels to mRNA vaccines based on no evidence.

Since Pfizer’s COVID mRNA vaccines don’t include hydrogels as a component (nor do Moderna’s), this is not a concern. Though this wouldn’t be a valid concern even if these vaccines did use hydrogels.




Read more:
How mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna work, why they’re a breakthrough and why they need to be kept so cold


Myth 3: they cause autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis, are chronic (long-term) illnesses where our immune systems attack our own cells.

It’s not entirely clear where this belief has come from, but we don’t have any evidence to suggest mRNA vaccines can cause autoimmune diseases.

The fact mRNA is very short-lived inside our cells indicates this is highly unlikely, because you would usually need a long-lived foreign agent to trigger a chronic autoimmune response.

Interestingly, mRNA vaccines are now being designed and delivered to treat autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. However, these are still at the early stage of development.

Myth 4: they make you infertile

Recent discussions on Twitter suggested antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein might “cross-react” and also target a protein in the placenta. If the immune system attacks the placenta, as the argument goes, that could make women infertile.

The basis for this idea is that coronavirus spike proteins, including that of SARS-CoV-2, have a very short region of similarity to a protein called syncitin-1 found in human placenta.

That amounts to a short stretch of five or six amino acids, where three or four amino acids are identical between coronavirus spike proteins and syncitin-1. Proteins as long as the spike protein will always share tiny regions of similarity with other human proteins. Our immune system is trained to ignore this.

The chances of making antibodies that cross-react with syncitin-1 are very small.

There’s no evidence antibodies against any coronavirus cause infertility. If coronavirus spike proteins did lead the immune system to attack the placenta, we’d see widespread infertility after common cold seasons, which are caused by a range of viruses, including coronaviruses.

It’s true pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine. Excluding this group from clinical trials is standard practice, but many have argued more COVID vaccine trials should include pregnant women.




Read more:
Australia’s vaccine rollout will now start next month. Here’s what we’ll need


All technologies were new once

Of all the vaccine technologies being explored against COVID-19, mRNA vaccines have proved the most efficient in reducing the incidence of severe COVID disease.

However, we still don’t fully understand their long-term safety, as with all new medicines.

The TGA’s approval is valid for two years and it will continue to monitor
the vaccine’s safety both in Australia and overseas.The Conversation

Archa Fox, Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow, University of Western Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Self-entitled prima donnas or do they have a point? Why Australian Open tennis players find hard lockdown so tough


Peter Terry, University of Southern Queensland

The challenge of bringing the world’s best tennis players and support staff, about 1,200 people in all, from COVID-ravaged parts of the world to our almost pandemic-free shores was always going to be a big ask.

Soon after this star-studded Australian Open entourage arrived in Melbourne, ten cases of COVID-19 were identified (some later reclassified as being old infections). As a result, 72 players classified as close contacts were confined to hotel rooms with no access to what they thought they had been promised — a daily five-hour session on the practice courts within the quarantine bubble.

Meanwhile, the superstars of the sport (Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka among them) were apparently enjoying much better conditions in Adelaide.

Social media turned white hot.

Spanish world number 13 Roberto Bautista Agut described conditions as like prison “but with wifi”.

Meanwhile Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva wished she had she been warned about the potential for hard lockdown and sharing her room with a mouse.

The flames were fanned by Novak Djokovic’s list of demands for improved conditions, admittedly on behalf of his fellow players and which he later said were just suggestions, which Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews immediately rejected.

Then, the backlash started

Fellow players waded in, with Nick Kyrgios labelling Djokovic “a tool” on Twitter and savaging Bernard Tomic’s partner as having “no perspective” for complaining about having to wash her own hair.

Condemnation of players who complained about being in quarantine, when the population of Melbourne had recently endured 112 days of lockdown, was swift and universal.

The consensus was that, instead of complaining, the self-entitled prima donnas should be grateful for the opportunity to play in one of the world’s great sporting events, pocketing between A$100,000 and $2.75m in prize money (for the singles) after their all-expenses paid trip down under.

When we put people on a pedestal

This looks like a clear case of pedestal syndrome backfiring, a term popularised in sport psychology by Jeffrey Bond, who worked with tennis legend Pat Cash when he won Wimbledon in 1987.

Inside Sport Psychology book cover featuring Roger Federer
Hotel quarantine can easily upset players’ moods but they could benefit from the isolation to work on the psychological aspects of their game.
Booktopia

It’s not a clinical diagnosis, but refers to the tendency to exalt those we admire to a position where we (and they) perceive they can do no wrong.

After all, when the world treats you like something special, feted and adored wherever you go, is it any wonder you start to believe the normal restrictions of a pandemic, indeed of life, do not apply to you?

Maybe the Australian Open should not have been held at all this year, as some prominent health experts have advised.

However, once the decision to proceed with the tournament next month was confirmed, wasn’t it incumbent upon the organisers to create a level playing field for competitors?

There is little doubt those in hard lockdown may be disadvantaged come tournament time.

Is lockdown treating all players equally?

With several of the world’s top players having greater freedom to train in Adelaide compared with those in Melbourne quarantine, some players are also questioning if they’ll be at an advantage when the tournament starts.

The better deal for those in Adelaide includes having a larger support team available, use of the hotel gym, and the opportunity to play exhibition matches.

As Austrian doubles specialist Philipp Oswald, in Melbourne quarantine, described it:

It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears — and I caught the sour lemon.

Players risk losing fitness

Research by university colleague Professor Tim Gabbett would predict the decline in fitness among those in hard lockdown will be significantly greater than among those allowed to train outdoors for up to five hours a day.

More than that, the rapid increase in training once released from lockdown will significantly increase injury risk and diminish capacity to maintain performance over the course of a five-set match. In short, advantage all those who escaped hard lockdown.




Read more:
Get a grip: the twist in the wrist that can ruin tennis careers


Then there is the issue of players’ psychological state leading into the tournament. My own research has highlighted the significant mood disturbance associated with COVID-19 restrictions, which were less restrictive than the hard lockdown many players are currently enduring.

It is well established that mood states affect performance in sport, and the negative moods likely engendered by lockdown will not encourage tournament success.

There could be benefits

However, there may be an upside for some players, especially those arriving with niggling injuries or excessively fatigued. The enforced rest may help them heal and freshen up before resuming normal training.

Lockdown also provides them with ample time to work on the mental side of their game, especially visualisation and mindfulness training. This may help them reframe their time in quarantine from a frustrating interruption into a productive period of mental preparation.




Read more:
We studied mental toughness in ultra-marathon runners. Mind over matter is real — but won’t take you all the way


What happens when players leave quarantine?

Some players will undoubtedly emerge from hard lockdown anxious about their physical condition and irked they were the ones who got the short straw.

Romanian player Sorona Cirstea said she will need “at least three weeks after [isolation] in order to be in decent form again”.

Unfortunately, she’ll have less than two weeks to regain her fitness and find her form post-lockdown.

No reasonable person would suggest tennis players be allowed to skip quarantine but perhaps spare a thought for those in hard lockdown who feel the playing field is ever so slightly tilted against them.The Conversation

Peter Terry, Professor of Psychology, University of Southern Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why the COVID-19 variants are so dangerous and how to stop them spreading



Shutterstock/Lakeview Images

Michael Plank, University of Canterbury and Shaun Hendy

With new, more infectious variants of COVID-19 detected around the world, and at New Zealand’s border, the risk of further level 3 or 4 lockdowns is increased if those viruses get into the community.

These include a variant called B.1.1.7 that has spread very quickly within the UK, with other new variants now observed in South Africa and Brazil.

Changes in the genetic code of viruses like COVID-19 occur all the time but most of these mutations don’t have any effect on how the disease spreads or its severity.

These changes can be useful because they leave a signature in the virus’s genetic code that allows us to trace how the virus has spread from one person to another.




Read more:
The big barriers to global vaccination: patent rights, national self-interest and the wealth gap


But the new variant detected in the UK is more transmissible than the original virus that was dominant in 2020. That means it spreads more easily from one person to another.

The good news is it does not cause more severe illness or have a higher fatality rate than the original variant. Evidence so far suggests vaccines will still be effective against it.

But the bad news is because it spreads more easily, it has the potential to infect many more people, causing more hospitalisations and deaths as a result.

Why variants that spread more easily are so dangerous

The average number of people an infected person with COVID-19 passes the virus on to — the so-called R number — is 40%-70% higher with B.1.1.7 than the original variant.

As the graph below shows, the mathematics of exponential growth means that even a small increase in the transmission rate gets compounded over time, quickly generating enormous growth in the number of cases.

A variant like B.1.1.7 with a higher transmission rate is actually more dangerous than one with a higher fatality rate.

Sure, a 50% increase in the fatality rate would cause 50% more deaths. But because of exponential growth, shown in the graph, a 50% increase in transmissibility causes 25 times more cases in just a couple of months if left unchecked.

That would lead to 25 times more deaths at the original mortality rate.

How do we know the new variant is more transmissible?

The number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant has risen rapidly relative to the original variant.

This can happen for a number of reasons. The new variant might simply happen to be present in a part of the country or group of people who are spreading the virus more rapidly for some other reason.

It could have become resistant to immunity, meaning it could more easily re-infect people who have already had COVID-19. Or it might cause people to become infectious more quickly.

Researchers in the UK used mathematical models to test these hypotheses.

They found the explanation that fitted best with the data was that the new variant really is more transmissible. And they estimated a person with the new variant infects 56% more people on average than a person with the original variant.

Contact tracing data from the UK also showed more of the close contacts of someone with the new variant go on to be infected.

A sign at an airport saying flights from UK cancelled after new COVID-19 variant discovered,
Some countries cancelled flights from the UK over fears of the new COVID strain.
Shutterstock/rarrarorro

Patients with the new variant have also been found to carry more of the virus. Together, this provides strong evidence the B.1.1.7 variant is between 40% and 70% more transmissible than the original variant.

The variants found in South Africa and Brazil share some of the same mutations as the B.1.1.7 variant. There is some evidence they may also be more transmissible or better able to evade immunity.

But there is more uncertainty about these variants, partly because the data quality isn’t as high as in the UK, which is very good at doing genome sequencing.

What does this mean for New Zealand’s border controls?

The new variants have been detected in many countries, including in people in New Zealand’s managed isolation facilities.

There have previously been several cases of people working in these facilities picking up infections from recent arrivals.

The more transmissible variants arriving at the New Zealand border increase the risks to these workers, who in turn have a higher chance of passing the virus onto others in the community, amplifying the risk of a community outbreak.

In response, the government says international arrivals will require a negative test in the 72 hours prior to departure. They will also be required to take an arrival day test when they get to New Zealand.

These measures provide an extra layer in our defences against COVID-19.

How can we manage the risk?

The new variants spread in the same way as the original one: through close contacts between people, especially in crowded or poorly ventilated environments.

This means all the tools we have developed to fight the virus will still work. These include testing, contact tracing, masks and physical distancing.

How face masks make a difference.

But any variant that is more transmissible has a higher R number. To control an outbreak, we need to bring the R number under 1 and so we may need to use more of these tools to achieve this.




Read more:
With COVID-19 mutating and surging, NZ urgently needs to tighten border controls


For example, in the Auckland outbreak in August 2020, alert level 3 was enough to contain and eventually eliminate the outbreak. Our analysis showed alert level 3 reduced R to about 0.7.

If we had a similar outbreak with the new variant, R could be 50% higher which would mean it is above 1. In other words, we would likely need to use alert level 4 to contain an outbreak, and it might take longer to eliminate the virus than it has previously.

To give our contact tracers the best possible chance of containing a new outbreak without needing alert level 3 or 4, we all need do our bit. This means looking for QR codes when out about and using the app to scan them, as well as turning on Bluetooth. And it means staying at home and getting tested if you feel sick.The Conversation

Michael Plank, Professor in Applied Mathematics, University of Canterbury and Shaun Hendy, Professor of Physics

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The big barriers to global vaccination: patent rights, national self-interest and the wealth gap



http://www.shutterstock.com

Ilan Noy, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington and Ami Neuberger, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

We will not be able to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us until the world’s population is mostly immune through vaccination or previous exposure to the disease.

A truly global vaccination campaign, however, would look very different from what we are seeing now. For example, as of January 20, many more people have been immunised in Israel (with a population less than 10 million) than in Africa and Latin America combined.

Notwithstanding recent questions about the effectiveness of the initial single dose of the vaccine, there is a clear disparity in vaccine rollouts internationally.

That is a problem. As long as there are still existing reservoirs of a propagating virus it will be able to spread again to populations that either cannot or would not vaccinate. It will also be able to mutate to variants that are either more transmissible or more deadly.

Counterintuitively, an increase in transmissibility, such as has been found with the new UK variant, is worse than the same percentage increase in mortality rate. This is because increased transmissibility increases the number of cases (and hence the number of deaths) exponentially, while an increase in mortality rates increases only deaths, and only linearly.

Evolutionary pressure on the virus will inevitably favour mutations that make the disease more transmissible, or the virus itself more vaccine-resistant. It is clear, therefore, that every nation’s interest is in universal vaccination. But this is not the trajectory we are on.

People waiting to be vaccinated in Israel
Fast roll out: a busy coronavirus vaccination station in Israel in mid-January.
GettyImages

Politics and profits

Fortunately, in the countries already vaccinating, the vaccine is (mostly) not allocated by wealth or power, but by prioritising those facing the highest risk. At a country level, however, national wealth is determining vaccine roll out.

Yet in the past we have managed to eradicate diseases worldwide, including small pox, a viral infection with much higher death rates than COVID-19.

There are two barriers that prevent us from rapidly pursuing a similar goal for the current pandemic:

  • big pharma is profit-driven and therefore keeps a tight lid on the intellectual property it is developing in the new vaccines

  • countries find it difficult to see beyond their national interest; not surprisingly, politicians are committed only to their own voters.

At this point, we don’t have a global system to confront either of these problems. Each vaccine’s patent is owned by its developer, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is too weak to be the world’s Ministry of Health.




Read more:
Should children get the COVID-19 vaccine?


The polio vaccine model

Overcoming big pharma’s profit motive has been achieved before, however.

In 1955, Jonas Salk announced the development of a polio vaccine in the midst of a huge epidemic. The news initially met with scepticism. Even employees of his own laboratory resigned, protesting that he was moving too fast with clinical experimentation.

When a huge placebo–controlled clinical trial involving 1.6 million children proved him right, however, he declared that in order to maximise the global distribution of this lifesaving vaccine his lab would not patent it. Asked who owned the patent, he famously replied:

Well, the people I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

In an echo of the current moment, Israel (then a new state) was also experiencing a rapidly spreading polio epidemic. Efforts to purchase vaccines from the US were unsuccessful, as not all American children were yet vaccinated. So a scientist named Natan Goldblum was sent to Salk’s laboratory to learn how to make the new vaccine.

No lawyers were involved and no contracts signed. The young Dr Goldblum spent 1956 setting up manufacturing facilities for Salk’s vaccine in Israel and by early 1957 mass vaccination was underway.

Dr Jonas Salk and a nurse administering a polio vaccine to a girl
Could you patent the sun? Dr Jonas Salk and a nurse administer a polio vaccine in Pennsylvania in the 1950s.
GettyImages

Suspend patent rights

Israel, a small and relatively poor country in the 1950s, became the third country in the world (after the US and Denmark) to produce the vaccine locally and eventually eradicate polio. It took a handful of scientists, a modest budget and, most importantly, no patenting.

Like Salk, Goldblum was aware viruses have complete disregard for political borders. He was also involved in a very successful Palestinian polio vaccination campaign in Gaza.




Read more:
The great polio vaccine mess and the lessons it holds about federal coordination for today’s COVID-19 vaccination effort


More recently, a highly successful international campaign in the early 2000s saw AIDS treatments distributed in poorer countries. Pharmaceutical companies that owned the patented drugs were forced to supply them at cost or for free, not at market prices set in the rich countries. This was achieved through public pressure and the willingness of governments to support the required policies.

A temporary withdrawal of the patenting rights to the successful COVID-19 vaccines, with or without compensation for the developers, seems a small price to pay for an exit strategy from this global and incredibly costly crisis.

Act local, think global

Overcoming national interest is perhaps more complicated. Clearly, countries have an interest in vaccinating their most vulnerable populations first. But at some point, well before everyone is vaccinated, it becomes more efficient for countries to start vaccinating their neighbours (the countries they are most exposed to through movements of people and trade).

Disappointingly, rich countries today behave as though they will reach 100% vaccination rates before they give away a single dose, with many having bought well in excess of what is needed for 100% coverage.




Read more:
COVID vaccine: some waste is normal – but here’s how it is being kept to a minimum


The COVAX plan to distribute vaccines in poorer countries has so far been an under-funded effort that has not yet delivered a single dose of vaccine. Even if COVAX were to be fully funded, it mostly aims to donate an insufficient number of vaccine doses to the poorest countries, rather than really bring about a universal vaccination programme.

Nevertheless, overcoming the profit-maximising interest of big pharma and the national focus of governments is not a pipe dream. The world has done it before.The Conversation

Ilan Noy, Professor and Chair in the Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington and Ami Neuberger, Clinical Assistant Professor, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.