When a deadly disease breaks out and threatens the world, countries are obliged to share laboratory samples and other information to help fight it, right?
Wrong. In 2007, Indonesia refused to give the World Health Organisation samples of an H5N1 influenza strain from an outbreak in the country until it was guaranteed fair access to any vaccines created from the material. Welcome to the world of “viral sovereignty”.
The ownership of pathogens and related data that emerge in one country is part of a long-standing debate that touches a colonial exploitative nerve: wealthy countries plundering the natural resources ” including biodiversity ” of poorer nations and profiting from it.
With the coronavirus death toll nearing 300,000, the Covid-19 pandemic has revived the issue of whether countries can claim ownership of pathogens that have emerged within their borders, according to the authors of a paper published in the Policy Forum in