Scott Duke Kominers argues for Bloomberg Opinion that the U.S. government should purchase or rent the intellectual property rights to medical technologies that could help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Kominers sees this policy as a middle ground between two less desirable options. Kominers argues that the government should not suspend patent protections to avoid diluting the incentive to innovate. But he also argues that doing nothing could delay the availability of crucial medical supplies and techniques.
The dangers that companies may abuse their patent rights during the present crisis may not be hypothetical much longer. The Intercept’s Sharon Lerner reports that, earlier this past week, Gilead Sciences received exclusive marketing rights to remdesivir, a potential cure for the coronavirus. Two days later, however, Gilead Sciences rescinded its request—perhaps motivated by a swift and strong public criticism.
Cellphone tracking has been used successfully by several Asian governments to stop the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, other nations, including the United States, have struggled to contain the virus. But attempts to begin tracking cellphones have proved controversial in several nations, largely because of privacy concerns. In particular, the United States and European Union place a number of legal restrictions on companies’ use of citizens’ data. This article reviews some of the policies currently under consideration and discusses how these policies might reduce privacy concerns.
U.S. hospitals, buckling under pressure from the coronavirus crisis, are considering applying universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients. If these orders were implemented, hospitals would not resuscitate patients whose hearts or breathing stop. The reasoning: declining to resuscitate coronavirus patients helps avoid a potential risk to hospital staff. In this process, the hospitals are weighing tough legal and moral dilemmas.