August 1, 2021

Nobel laureate Stiglitz: Germany is “in fact taking the world hostage”

Panorama Nobel laureate Stiglitz

“Until the German side changes its position, the pandemic will rage unchecked”

Stiglitz wants to ramp up vaccine production so that “the world population can be adequately protected"

Stiglitz wants to ramp up vaccine production in order to “adequately protect the world population”

Source: pa / dpa / Felix Hörhager

Instead of releasing patents for corona vaccines, Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favor of direct delivery to poorer countries. The former chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, criticizes this sharply: Germany is taking the “world hostage”.

BIn May after the EU summit, un-Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out clearly against the release of patents on corona vaccines. That was not the solution to make vaccine available to more people, said the CDU politician at the time.

Opposition now comes from the former chief economist of the World Bank and Nobel Prize winner for economics Joseph Stiglitz. Most industrialized nations agreed to an exception, he wrote in a guest post for “Die Zeit” and warns: The “economic costs of this stubbornness” would be enormous, “not to mention the loss of human life”.

“With its indomitable position, Germany is taking the wrong side of history” and “is actually taking the whole world hostage,” continues Stiglitz.

The economist calls on the federal government to temporarily suspend the patents of the corona vaccines developed in Germany. “The deliberately impenetrable network of patents, copyrights and trade secrets must be levered out”. This is necessary in order to be able to ramp up vaccine production, “to be able to adequately protect the world population and to stop the spread of the virus”, especially in poorer countries.

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In the debate about the release of patents for vaccine production, the focus has primarily been on the producers of the particularly sought-after mRNA vaccines, including the German company Biontech. While US President Joe Biden is in favor of the release of patents, the federal government is relying more on supplying poorer countries with finished vaccines.

Stiglitz believes that developing countries do not have the ability to produce Covid vaccines as an assertion that contains “thoroughly racist and neo-colonialist undertones”. Germany must rethink its stance quickly. “Especially since the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently risking to undermine her good worldwide reputation and perhaps even her political legacy in the final phase of her 16-year term in office”.

The G7 countries decided this week to distribute 2.3 billion vaccine doses to poorer countries by the end of next year. Given a world population of eight billion people, some experts, including Stiglitz, consider this number to be far from sufficient. “Until the German side changes its position, the pandemic will rage unchecked.”