Is Joe Biden taking his patent advice from the likes of Chelsea Clinton?

Joe Biden is living up to Bob Gates's dictum as being "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

What's he up to now?  Well, after claiming credit for Operation Warp Speed to develop COVID vaccines, his latest bad idea is his plan to end patent protections on them.  He's declared he wants to give them away for free, to help with the COVID crisis in India.

According to the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration came out on Wednesday in support of waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines, siding with international efforts to bolster production amid concerns about vaccine access in developing nations.

The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some of the world economic body’s intellectual property protections, which could allow drugmakers across the globe access to the closely guarded trade secrets of how the viable vaccines have been made. But President Biden had come under increasing pressure to throw his support behind the proposal, drafted by India and South Africa and backed by many congressional Democrats.

It's a terrible idea, which will put a damper on innovation everywhere.  Big Pharma is one of the very few industries left that consistently innovates in the U.S. with its life-saving meds.  But when companies cannot profit from their innovations, they don't make them.

Where's he getting this bad idea from?  One place to look is in the writings of Chelsea Clinton, an essay of which ran with curious timing.  Here's what she wrote in the leftist Atlantic Monthly, dated May 5:

President Joe Biden must help, by removing patent barriers and making vaccine technology available to other countries.


The path forward is clear. First, the U.S. government can support a proposal made by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend intellectual-property rights. The proposal has been languishing at the WTO since October, despite overwhelming support from developing countries, because of opposition from the U.S., as well as from Canada, Australia, the European Union and the United Kingdom. (The diktat of a few giant corporations, it would seem, takes precedence over the will of the people, even in a global emergency.) The Biden administration should reverse course at the WTO meeting this week and reject claims by the pharmaceutical industry that the proposal is merely a “thinly veiled attempt” to boost the Indian drug industry, never mind the crisis ripping through the country—or that a suspension of intellectual-property rights risks giving China and Russia the ability to "exploit" lifesaving technology, as though that were somehow a bad thing.

Sure, lifting patent protections may help India in the short term.  India has been hard hit by the virus, but India is also a country that has money.  There is no reason India and its private companies can't pay at least a small royalty to the actual innovators who took the risk and delivered the result.  Joe thinks that giving it away for free will actually be better.  But to think it can be done by destroying America's patent protections is idiocy. 

Big Pharma put a Herculean effort into reaching its big goal of developing COVID vaccines in record time.  Now that that big goal was reached, Joe rewards it by giving it away for free to others who didn't bother.  For Joe, it's always easy to give away other people's stuff.  The consequence?  No more Operation Warp Speeds come the next pandemic.  Because who would want to spend billions on developing a miracle vaccine only to have a clown like Biden declare it his to give away?

Who the heck was giving him this bad idea sure to have big reverberations on U.S. innovation?

One place to look is in the writings of the vaunted Chelsea Clinton, sinecure consultant extraordinaire, married to a hedge fund manager.  With curious timing, she wrote this piece dated May 5 in the Atlantic Monthly, arguing that Biden has "the power" to "vaccinate the world."

This is lunacy, put out by a pampered princess who played corporate consultant for a while yet still has no idea how the world works.  She doesn't understand energy, and she sure as heck doesn't understand patents.

For Big Pharma, whose ox is gored in this, it's got to be a revelation.  After all, hadn't they been good to Joe?  Pfizer, for one, withheld news of its vaccine breakthrough in order to prevent President Trump from claiming credit before the 2020 election and halt his re-election.  They wanted to help Joe, and we hope they're happy with their decision.  They were last seen protesting vigorously, with Joe following Chelsea's lead like a lost lamb.

Some may think Big Pharma deserves this for all its electioneering from the top.  But this isn't about Big Pharma; it's about business certainty.  There has been a concerted attack on intellectual property from leftists (and Islamists, who abhor progress and change).  Intellectual property is the foundation of innovation and productivity gains.  Without it, the advantages of capitalism fade.  Manufacturing vaccines requires a lot of expertise beyond the formulas — and that process knowledge is applicable to many products.  Once it's lost, it's gone.  And pharmacy innovations are one of the very few fields left where the U.S. is a leader.  Joe's claim that this will be "temporary" is another ignorant lie.  I bet it involved a lot of foreign lobbying.

When anyone's hard won innovation can be given away to lower-cost, cheaper-labor, environmentally indifferent rivals in China (which is one country that will benefit in addition to India), innovation isn't going to be attempted.  Innovation relies on guarantees.  It's not about bad-behaving corporate Pfizer; it's about all the innovation that would otherwise come after it, from any and every company.  Joe's flip support for an attack on American technological innovation will ensure that that, along with a lot of other stuff he's devalued — citizenship, hard work, rule of law — ends up gone.

Thomas Lifson contributed to this article.

Image: Gage Skidmore via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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