(This op-ed was first published in TIME on March 4, 2020.)
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sparked outrage last week when he said that the federal government could not guarantee that a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the coronavirus currently sweeping across the world, would be affordable. The government “can’t control” vaccine prices “because we need the private sector to invest,” Azar told lawmakers. But Azar’s economics are wrong: the federal government can ensure that a vaccine would be cheap—or even free—while giving the private sector powerful incentives to pour resources into vaccine research.
(Continue reading the op-ed on TIMES’ page here.)
Lisa Larrimore Ouellette is an Associate Professor at Stanford Law School. Her scholarship addresses empirical and theoretical problems in intellectual property and innovation law. Daniel Hemel is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School and a visiting professor at Stanford Law School.