Science for Peace is heartened by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s statement that Canada’s intelligence agencies will not “help track COVID-19’s spread within the country’s border”, thankfully indicating that our government will not allow intervention into this public health emergency by Canada’s intelligence agencies. The CSIS warning of “an increased risk of foreign interference and espionage”, however, suggests a push in this unfortunate direction. We underline, with our utmost concern for the cooperation and well-being of our global population, the utter necessity for open public knowledge and technology. The global community has been needlessly unprepared for this emergency despite ample warnings about viral epidemics for years by public health researchers and professionals. It is essential that all knowledge about immunology, virology, and epidemiology be public, not private, and that all research is available worldwide. There are as yet crucial areas requiring research. When and if diagnostic methods, vaccine, and treatment are effective, they must be accessible and quickly available to all without blocks by private profit demands. The best way to circumvent dangers of “state-sponsored hacking” and “foreign espionage” is by public knowledge in all matters on public health. Science for Peace therefore insists with fellow citizens concerned for our collective well-being that all public health research is published in open, non-proprietary scientific literature.
Science for Peace recognizes the various interests, often conflicting, between the public and private economic sectors: private profit vs the public good and what in society is best configured as a “common” responsibility, need, entitlement. More to the point here where it pertains to public health in a global emergency situation, it must be remembered that basic research into health matters is funded by the public through taxation but that unfortunately, publicly-funded research is hived of into private profit through patents and claims of intellectual property rights.
What we underline is that matters of public health must remain wholly public and not privatized. This applies to research and its outcomes in diagnosis, vaccines, treatment.