In late 2020, the announcement from governments around the world of various approved COVID-19 vaccines reignited hope for a return to normalcy in 2021. However, the vaccine rollout has been complicated by secretive government contracts that give pharmaceutical companies exclusive ownership over patents and latitude in distribution delivery dates and pricing. Early efforts from some vaccine research initiatives, like that out of the University of Oxford, to develop open-source vaccines that would ensure accessibility and affordability across the globe, went by the wayside as those same researchers sold their vaccines to private manufacturers who stand to gain enormous profits. This case asks students to explore the ways that profitability may ultimately come at the cost of an equitable, affordable, and ethical vaccine rollout.
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