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Konstantin Hondros & Milena Leybold

Is an open source vaccine inside?

Just over a year ago, Milena Leybold and Leonhard Dobusch asked, Why is there no open-source vaccine against Covid-19? and discussed arguments why open-source vaccines are difficult to achieve. In March 2022, The Financial Times published an article by Donato Paolo Mancini, Jamie Smyth, and Joseph Cotterill asking Will ‘open-source’ vaccines narrow the inequality gap exposed by Covid? (behind a subscription barrier) and indicating that the landscape of open-source vaccines may have changed substantially.This blog post is thought of as a reply and extension to this very informative report that introduces mainly two organizations producing or aiming to produce open-source vaccines: Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines (Afrigen) and the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development (CVD with their vaccine Corbevax). For sure, Afrigen and CVD approach vaccine development, production, and distribution much more openly than most of the vaccines dominating the market. Still, it is unclear to what extent they should be considered as “open-source.” To clarify this topic, we scrutinize what an open-source vaccine ideally could be, to what degree Afrigen or CVD fit the ideals of open-source, and what other attempts for open-source vaccine alternatives are currently under development.

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Platform rule No. x, own drawing

In a recent blog post, Amy Thomas from the CREATe center at the University of Glasgow suggests that contractual provisions can have – not least detrimental – effects for creativity on digital platforms. She points to uncertainty of users generating content (UGC) on platforms as their creations are regulated by a complex and often confusing “combination of legal, technical and contractual features,“ and particularly issues rising from the multiple (contractual) terms and conditions every platform develops, the T&Cs. Platforms do not disclose properly what they are allowed to do with users’ creativity and related intellectual property (IP), and hide behind legalese contract provisions. Thomas concludes that the complex regulatory “tapestry” eventually leads to an imbalance between platforms and users, perceived regulatory uncertainty of users and even “legal mandates to change the law without the legislative process.“ Instead of fostering creativity, platforms’ regulatory environments put “users in a confusing, and potentially vulnerable, position.“

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The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
December 2022
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.