Big Pharma putting profits ahead of global health in COVID fight

Plus, Doug Ford's middle finger to Ontario, corporate media's climate cop-out, and the glow comes off Toronto Blooms in reader mail this week


Pharmaceutical companies not sharing vaccine know-how

Back in my native country, Ethiopia, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc. Because Ethiopia is a low-income country that cannot afford to procure vaccines independently, millions of people at risk will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 for years to come. This should concern us all because our only way to end the global pandemic, including here in Canada, is to make sure that vaccines reach everyone, everywhere.

What is appalling is that many low-and-middle-income countries, including in Africa, already do have manufacturing capacity to start producing their own vaccines and save precious lives but can only do so if intellectual property rights are waived. Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical companies are not sharing intellectual property, know-how, and data out of pure greed.

It is immoral that high-income countries are refusing to support the TRIPS intellectual property waiver proposed by South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization to allow scale-up of vaccine production. As we celebrate World Immunization Week on April 24-30, Canada must support the TRIPS waiver tabled at the WTO and put people’s lives ahead of publicly subsidized pharmaceutical company profits.

Hanna BelaynehOttawa

Global response to COVID at critical point

“We now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots.”

These words, spoken by the World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, signals the deadly divide between high-income countries and low-and-middle-income countries.

The scientific community has mobilized in extraordinary ways since the initial outbreak of COVID-19. The development of COVID-19 vaccines moved at unrivalled rates. Given the global spread, vaccine rollout across the world is a critical aspect of bringing the pandemic to an end.

The past several months, however, have seen a competition between high-income countries racing to get access to these essential medicines. This approach will only prolong the pandemic, and greatly exacerbate existing inequities between the privileged and the marginalized.

Frances WalkerFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

Doug Ford’s middle finger to Ontario

Doug Ford should not have apologized for giving police more powers to enforce COVID measures (NOW Online, April 22). He should have stood by his decision and refused to compromise. There would be more dignity in it.

Charles de Gaulle made a number of inflammatory statements and some very unpopular decisions, but he never wavered or folded under pressure. In the end, he issued an ultimatum to the French people: “Either I get an overwhelming vote of confidence or I quit.”

Doug Ford could learn a thing or two from de Gaulle. He should flip Ontarians the bird and tell them that getting rid of me might help you let off steam but it won’t change the COVID-19 crisis one iota. Deal with it!

John C. MurrayFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

Playing the COVID blame game

It makes me sick when I hear people praising Doug Ford and blaming Justin Trudeau for the current COVID mess (NOW Online, April 23). Ford is another Donald Trump. We have some very ignorant people in Ontario, they voted for Ford and they can’t admit they are wrong!

Marg WoodFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

Ford deliberately undermining vaccine rollout

My main concern at this stage of the pandemic is how Doug Ford and his regime of bobbleheads are deliberately causing confusion about the vaccine rollout (NOW Online, April 11). WTF is happening?

Our “Dear Leader ” hasn’t been listening to anyone from the medical community, municipal, federal and provincial officials, union leaders and many other groups that have been in the line of fire of the pandemic.

When asked about his failure to listen to medical experts, as usual Ford got defensive and blamed others for his negligence. Meanwhile, Ford has been campaigning and fundraising whenever he can during the pandemic.

Ford’s response to the pandemic is deliberately undermining the successful rollout of the vaccines. He is using the power of his office to circumvent the election rules to tip in his favour. Ford’s neglect in response to the third wave and variants of concern have now pushed our hospitals and health care workers to the brink.

Nolan StrandFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

Canada’s media monopoly doing Big Oil’s bidding

Re Big Oil’s Climate Cop-Out (NOW April 22-28) Our elected representatives have failed us, but so has the mainstream news media when it comes to fighting climate change.

In Canada, we have a near-monopoly corporate news media (i.e. Postmedia) that are formally allied with companies involved in one of the planet’s greatest polluting solid forms of “energy” and the most polluting form of crude oil — bitumen from the tar sands.

Frank Sterle Jr.From NOWTORONTO.COM

Glow comes off Toronto Blooms

Last year, the Toronto Bloom cam was handled by artists (NOW Online, April 14). I was one of the two artists hired. Reanna Niceforo was the other. I am a Metis artist from the City working as a photographer and visual artist. Due to the fluid nature of the pandemic last year we had to work under extremely tight timelines to have a 24-hour stream set up wirelessly in days. This year, the Parks Department chose to hire Earthcam an American corporation doing tourist cams around the world instead of directly supporting local artists.

Phil SutherlandFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

Location tax key to affordable housing

It is strange that every “solution” offered to make housing affordable (NOW Online, April 17) ignores the most fundamental cause — the escalating cost of land.

The wisdom of deep thinkers such as Adam Smith is ignored when it comes to solving the problem of rising land costs. Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations that the right public policy for any society is to impose an annual tax on land equal to the potential annual rental value of whatever land is privately held. Why? Because the value of a location has nothing to do with what the owner of the land does or does not do to improve the site. Location values are based on the advantages the location provides, and these advantages are directly created by the quality of public goods and services available.

If Toronto’s civic leaders want housing to become affordable, then land prices must come down. And, the only way this will occur is by moving to a land-only property tax system. This will have a benefit of ending the profit that comes from land speculation. This will have the secondary benefit of encouraging development where public infrastructure already exists, curbing sprawling development that eats up open space, agricultural land and imposes huge infrastructure costs on the public.

Edward J. DodsonFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

End to blind bidding will make housing market fairer

Re Toronto Real Estate Experts Call For An End To Bling Bidding And Deception (NOW Online, April 25). I’m currently going through the home-buying process and it’s been a struggle from the beginning. Something needs to be done to protect buyers and make the market fairer. Thank you for shedding light on this subject!

Rosa B.From NOWTORONTO.COM

Cannabis economic 101

Re The Second Coming Of Cannabis Legalization in Canada (NOW Online, April 5). Why am I going to pay $15 a gram from a store when I can get it from “my guy” for $80 to $100 an ounce?

Dan RogersFrom NOWTORONTO.COM

@nowtoronto

Comments (2)

  • Frank Sterle Jr. April 25, 2021 01:48 PM

    Re: “Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical companies are not sharing intellectual property, know-how, and data out of pure greed.” …

    Big Pharma’s most likely excuse, or at least the greatest consideration, for their greed will be their need to recover research and development costs, which are typically cited by the very profitable industry to justify its exorbitant prices and resistance to universal medication coverage by government plan.

    However, according to a Huffington Post story (“Pharmaceutical Companies Spent 19 Times More On Self-Promotion Than Basic Research: Report,” updated May 8, 2013), a study conducted by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that for every $19 dollars the pharmaceutical industry spent on promoting and marketing new drugs, it put only $1 into its R&D.

    Promised universal medication coverage (though it would likely be for generic-brand only) was again conspicuously missing from a federal Liberal budget, as it has been with some past Grit governments. After the last promise was made, following the 2019 election, the pharmaceutical industry reacted with threats of abandoning their Canada-based R&D if the federal government went ahead with the plan. Why? Because universal ‘pharmacare’ would negatively affect the industry’s plentiful profits. Of course, profits would still be great, just not as great, which bothers the industry greatly.

  • Delia Reiche April 25, 2021 08:40 PM

    You armchair quarterbacks! You are creating hatred with your headlines! All of our leader have not got it right, but as journalist you guys have failed. Every day you CHOICE to write SHIT… NO one has this right… think if only we didn’t listen to Dr.Tam last March and we began wearing face-masks could we have prevented this? What if we shut our boarder earlier could we have prevented this? All the doctors with different opinions? We have protestors everywhere…We do not want to listen that is the problem… your streets of downtown Toronto are full, underground restaurants, no social distancing in TB Park… and yet you don’t not hold them accountable… the rest of the province is paying for what Toronto/GTA has done! STOP this madness of blame ask the questions on how the hell are we getting out of this… You try to please everyone good luck with that!

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