Hello, this is Wilhelm. In this blog I will discuss the incredible achievement that is the Covid vaccine and how it proves how well capitalism works – if we let it.
Last week I had my second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. In the year after the world was first locked down, a few pharmaceutical companies have developed, tested and started rolling out these jabs. It is a success that could transform the way society understands a truth about how the economy works.
In order to get great things done fast, red tape was cut and companies were allowed to bring their products to market much faster than the medicines regulator would ordinarily allow. The shortening of clinical trials will continue for the booster jabs, and now you are seeing calls for further deregulation.
A BBC radio programme called “The Reunion” brought the author Michael Rosen – who was almost killed by the virus – and the intensive care team that treated him back together. On the programme, his physician, Professor Hugh Montgomery, described how much the pandemic response was helped by the cutting of red tape. The University College London engineering department, and the Mercedes Formula One team teamed up to create an innovative new breathing aid. They had the idea on Monday and it was ready for trial by Friday. A process that would have taken months, costing money and spending unnecessary energy, was approved the day after the application was received.
Professor Montgomery said: “It’s something we should learn from. We’ve got a highly intelligent, motivated, committed group of people who are muted by bureaucracy so much and if we could let them flourish, I think the world would be a better place.”
Even the left-wing press can see the benefits of letting enterprise get to work. In recent months the New York Times has called capitalism “amazing” and posted a column saying we should “Speed Up Vaccinations and Reduce the Red Tape.” The EU’s slow, risk-based regulation model has led to problems procuring vaccines and difficulties convincing the public to take them. The mess over Astrazeneca’s jab shows a mistrust of markets and medicine by Big Government. Industry and the public have been stymied and nannied for too long.
In the UK, where the public is taking the vaccine without a problem, this desperate moment is allowing corporations to prove that they are good for society. The supermarkets and suppliers in particular have been heroic, keeping the shelves stocked despite logistical challenges. And the much-hated big pharma is showing it also has a human side, with Astrazeneca offering its product at cost, an act of charity.
It took a once-in-a-century pandemic but everyone is realising how bureaucracy can stifle innovation, and that capitalism can help the world thrive. The great German adage goes: Not macht erfinderisch. Necessity is the mother of invention.