photo from Twitter @laDiscussioneQ
The Liberal economist and geopolitics expert Dr. Pietro Paganini, of Montessori background and in love with the scientific method, President of the Study Center “Competere.eu, Policy for Sustainable Development” (think-tank that promotes analysis and studies in favor of sustainability and innovation), lecturer at John Cabot University in Rome and Temple University in Philadelphia. He is also founder of the Italian Institute for Privacy and Data Enhancement. He was General Director of the Luigi Einaudi Foundation, he talks about pandemic, European strategy on vaccines and Italian position in the international context. He also wrote for Corriere della Sera, Wall Street Journal, Jakarta Post, Bangkok Post, La Stampa, Il Sole 24 Ore, Fatto Quotidiano, Huffington Post and Formiche.
D. Professor. In recent days, the European Parliament has approved the suspension of patents on vaccines to speed up the administration of doses in the poorest countries. However, the comment of the President of the EU Council Charles Michel also arrived, stressing that the suspension would not be a panacea for the problem. It’s really like this? How functional can it be to suspend patents to speed up vaccination around the world?
A. Parliament has voted a useless resolution, which only serves to embarrass the EU Commission which, in fact, does not think remotely about suspending patents. It’s the usual emotional vow, of politicians chasing dreams and utopias instead of sticking to the facts and working to find concrete solutions that improve the lives of the citizens of the planet, instead of deluding ourselves with fairy tales. Stopping the vaccines does not solve the problem. Biden’s proposal was geopolitical: respond to China that is giving vaccines to many developing countries, even at the borders of Europe, such as Algeria. But it was also a smart move: to force those who access the patent (Pfizer, therefore USA) to turn to American industry for the necessary know-how. Indeed, with patents in hand, nothing can be done if you do not know how to produce and distribute adequately. I use the example of my mom’s risotto, the best in the world. The recipe is known, shared, but no one can emulate mom. The same goes for drugs, therapies and vaccines. The secret formula is not enough, production and distribution capacity is needed. It must then be said that the patent does not interest the so-called poor countries, but those, such as China and India, or South Africa, who want to produce and sell vaccines to developing countries. But often, as has happened, they are unable to make drugs and so in Africa, for example, expired or badly produced drugs arrive. With dire consequences. There is the Covax program, invest in it, and at the same time, if you want to help countries in difficulty, give them the capital and know-how to help them develop their pharmaceutical industry.
Q. A year and a half after the arrival of the pandemic in Europe, there is still no certainty about the origin of Covid19. What idea did you get? Will we ever know the truth? Shouldn’t China admit its grave responsibilities to the whole world?
A. The absence of transparency confirms that the most valid hypothesis remains that of the accident in the laboratory of Wuhan. If it were true, we will never know the truth. Imagine the rations. For a year, including many virologists and self-styled Italian men and women of science, we have been told that the laboratory is conspiracy while that of the bat, or rather the natural passage, is the truth. But no evidence has been brought to us, no bats with covid-19. While we know that coronaviruses (gain of function) were enhanced in that laboratory, a very dangerous practice, because of unknown consequences, in poor safety conditions. Now, some virologists make the quail leap, recognizing that maybe the virus came out of the lab by mistake, but it is not the fault of science. Better late than never. Certainly it is not the fault of science, but as I wrote, science needs rules especially when working in conditions that could generate consequences beyond man’s control. Paradoxically I would be more concerned if the transmission was natural, because it means that it could happen all the time. The laboratory is a human error which implies a reflection on the role of science and scientists. Certain research shouldn’t be done until you are able to control the consequences. Error that could have responsibility, if it has not been operated, as it appears from the US reports, in conditions of adequate safety. Since May with my think tank we have been asking the Italian government to obtain clarity from the Chinese government, the WHO, but also from the USA and France who funded the research.
Q. With the arrival of Draghi as President of the Council, how has the position of Italy changed in terms of negotiations in Europe? Are we gaining ground against our international competitors? Has the pace changed at least as far as credibility is concerned?
A. It seems that Draghi is having fun and enjoying this assignment. I am always in opposition, as a good liberal. Always constructive to critically help those who govern. The opposition is more important than the majority, because it has the privilege of criticizing. But it is difficult to propose to Draghi because he is doing very well, especially in foreign policy, taking unusually strong positions for Italian diplomacy. At the Farnesina they asked him to retract on Erdogan, and he did not. He sent a clear message to China. He put Italy back in the middle of the Atlantic. And in economic policy they listen to him. Speak, propose. Compared to the predecessors it is other pasta. I hope he can stay at least two years, and carry out the feared reforms, starting with the fiscal one, which is fundamental.