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The Covid-19 pandemic is, without doubt, one of the biggest societal challenges of our times. Since its outbreak in December 2019, more than 3 million people died due to or with a Covid-19 infection. The pandemic hits the world with disastrous side effects such as economies suffering from recurrent or constant lockdowns, children who can’t go to school, or rising case numbers of mentally ill people. The most promising solution to stop the pandemic: vaccination.

In December 2020, the first person got vaccinated with the officially authorized Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine “COMIRNATY” in UK and Russia started mass vaccination with the vaccine “Sputnik V”. Shortly after, other big pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna, Astrazeneca, Sinovac, or Johnson & Johnson managed to get marketing authorizations for their vaccines. However, the vaccination campaigns proceed slower than expected: the demand for vaccines exceeds the production capacities of the pharma companies. Further, vaccines are not globally distributed at comparable rates. Unequal access to vaccines is not just a matter of injustice but imbalances also increase the risk of mutations developing in non-vaccinated countries.

Overview of vaccination rates by April 28th, 2021 (the darker the more people got vaccinated)

In January 2021, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the imbalance of vaccine distribution as “a catastrophic moral failure” and asked countries of the Global North to lift intellectual property protections so that countries around the world could produce vaccines. Similarly, the People’s Vaccine Alliance proposes offering the Covid-19 vaccine as a common good:

Our best chance of all staying safe is to ensure a COVID-19 vaccine is available for all as a global common good. This will only be possible with a transformation in how vaccines are produced and distributed — pharmaceutical corporations must allow the COVID-19 vaccines to be produced as widely as possible by sharing their knowledge free from patents.
Instead they are protecting their monopolies and putting up barriers to restrict production and drive up prices, leaving us all in danger. No one company can produce enough for the whole world. So long as vaccine solutions are kept under lock and key, there won’t be enough to go around. We need a People’s Vaccine, not a profit vaccine.

This raises the question of this blog post: wouldn’t it be possible to organize the development of an open source vaccine that could be produced and distributed all over the world? Fortunately, media articles and governmental statements provide us with a rich bunch of arguments, why this is not an option. Let’s have a look at those.

Read the rest of this entry »

Screenshot of website for the course “Organizing in Times of Crisis”

Confronted with the need to adapt teaching in the summer term to the ongoing corona cris, my colleague Elke Schüßler, who is regular contributor to this blog, and I teamed up with six other organization scholars in Germany and Austria to design a collaborative open course on “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid-19”. From the course description:

The worldwide spread of the Covid19 virus poses a grand social challenge. Seriously threatening the health of the world’s population and accompanied by huge social and economic disruption, it is one of the largest immediate crises for Western societies since World War II and a humanitarian disaster for humankind around the world. Drawing on classic and contemporary organization theory, this course aims to illuminate many pressing questions surrounding the pandemic, such as how supply chains can be organized to ensure adequate supplies of health material, the strengths and difficulties of open science approaches to the development of a vaccine or capabilities of different forms of organization and coordination to quickly and adequately respond in times of crisis.

All course materials, readings, assignments and video lectures are available open access at and the corresponding YouTube channel respectively. Given that all is available under a Creative Commons license, we invite lecturers to use, adapt and build upon our materials. Where possible, we offer the course material in open, changeable formats to make adaptation as easy as possible (e.g., the standard course syllabus). Check it out!


The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
May 2021

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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.