Opinion | Expanding Access and Instilling Faith in Vaccines

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To the Editor:

Re “Want Vaccines Fast? Suspend Intellectual Property Rights,” by Achal Prabhala, Arjun Jayadev and Dean Baker (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, Dec. 7):

Of all of the ways to improve access to critical medication or vaccines, elimination of intellectual property rights is one of the worst. Our intellectual property system is designed to reward research and development innovation.

Tampering with that sends a chilling signal about the rewards of corporate funding of the development and manufacture of new drugs, and tears down a system that has allowed the U.S. government to realize an enormous return on its investment into biomedical research.

The government has many other options to achieve the important public policy goal of providing broad access to vaccines. It can encourage and reward out-licensing and technology transfer, negotiate preferential pricing or simply provide volume purchasing guarantees — options that would not have the unfortunate effect of discouraging pharmaceutical innovation. We need effective vaccines not just for this emergency, but for the next one as well.

James Sailer
New York
The writer is executive director of the Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research.

To the Editor:

Operation Warp Speed has indeed succeeded in accelerating the delivery of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. However, focusing on the “warp speed” with which the vaccines were developed diminishes three decades of scientific progress that made this breakthrough possible. It may also undermine public confidence in the vaccines themselves.

Since the early 1990s, mRNA delivery has been tested in animals. Over the past decade, technological advances in both animal and human studies have increased the safety of mRNA vaccines and improved their delivery and effectiveness. As a result, much-needed technology was in place and ready to be adapted for the battle against Covid-19.

There have been no scientific shortcuts in developing Covid-19 vaccines. Appreciating this may help overcome some of the misunderstanding, mistrust and misinformation that currently threaten public acceptance of Covid-19 vaccination.

Jonathan Garlick
The writer is director of Tufts University’s Initiative in Civic Science at Tufts Dental School.

Doing Justice by the Negro Leagues

To the Editor:

Re “Righting a Wrong, Baseball Elevates Negro Leagues to the Majors,” by Tyler Kepner (On Baseball column, front page, Dec. 17):

Major League Baseball wants to do the right thing by Negro League players. But it can’t make history right by airbrushing its segregated past and Photoshopping the Black players into M.L.B. records.

Better to asterisk M.L.B. records from segregation days for not facing competition from the best.

Jeffrey Abramson
Truro, Mass.

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