Today’s news: Pfizer has agreed to make inexpensive versions of its adult anti-infection drug COVID-19 – a clear move that should allow COVID-19 to be made and sold freely in places where antibiotics have become scarce and expensive, and cheap, generic versions of other drugs have become highly sought after by poor countries. “Lower-priced alternative medicines will allow individuals in developing countries to treat themselves more easily, with fewer medical expenses,” to quote UNIDO’s Marie Noelle Lencho. Pfizer’s co-owned biopharmaceutical company Zoetis says it will produce some of these cheaper versions of COVID-19, and two that it makes itself, in Bangladesh for about $0.60 per pill, without harm to people with HIV or malaria. Also, can’t we have something like this with medicines? That would be useful.
USA: A prison in Wisconsin is temporarily changing its food service vendor – to McDonald’s, which has promised not to contribute in any way to the union that’s challenging the contract, or to the guards who are challenging the contracts. The union is “like a little hamster that keeps whirring and whirring and whirring, and whirring until the food is ready,” a guard said. If the union wins in court, this will be the end of the line for food service in Wisconsin prisons. And here’s an interesting and sad, but true, angle to this story: Around 180 prisoners who refused to leave their cells were encouraged by their lawyers to file a lawsuit.
Ilya states this sentence and wonders if anyone read it: “Old data, reliable enough for us to trust their value, is having much better-than-expected value in China.”
Ilya asks interesting questions about how and why western wealth has arisen and overcome poverty in developing countries. In China, for example, many have health insurance, credit cards, cell phones, and online shopping. The West has not: in much of Africa, health-care infrastructure is primitive, and few living in rural areas have an internet connection.
In Kenya, many elites don’t use cell phones, but much of the population does – and they don’t have cell phone service. Why don’t they? It’s all because they live far from major transport hubs, and they don’t own cars.
To end the blog, you may recall that some black young people in London began an anti-gentrification protest when they learned that a spot where their own mother got her first haircut was to be priced out. In other words, they had an interest in saving what they could. The policing of that protest was controversial.