Nations and drug companies have been urged to put the patents for a COVID-19 vaccine in the public domain for the good of humanity.

The pharmaceutical industry, and its university partners, should make the potential vaccine available to all countries without priority or exclusivity and put the “global common good” ahead of profit, according to leading health economists.

Writing in The Lancet Healthy Longevity, health economist Professor Cam Donaldson, Yunus Chair at Glasgow Caledonian University, outlines the dangers of countries acting in their own self-interest in the race to find a vaccine.

In an article, co-written with Nobel Peace Laureate and GCU Emeritus Chancellor Professor Muhammad Yunus, he states: “As the virus knows no geographic boundaries, we have to act to help each other.

“Scientific consensus is that the only way this pandemic will be eradicated is through the vaccination of all people worldwide.

“It is, therefore, important to recognise this in our policy actions to avoid the tragedy of the commons, in which selfish behaviour leads to adverse communal outcomes. This is true for countries as well as individuals.

“We call for the response to COVID-19 to be global in deeds as well as words and based on principles of equal and universal access to treatments and vaccines.

“The mission, and driver, should not be one of profit but, rather the achievement of the widest and maximum health benefit possible.”

Campaigners are urging vaccine research to be placed in the public domain and made available to any production facility that pledges to operate under strict international regulatory supervision.

Professor Donaldson added: “The funds required to mobilise around COVID-19 vaccines as a global common good are likely to pale into insignificance relative to what will be required to address on ongoing economic recession consequent on non-eradication.

“The collective reward for laboratories and researchers who contribute to the development of COVID-19 vaccines for the Common Good  would be the ability operate in more settled ‘markets’ and perhaps a Nobel Prize in Medicine, and even in Peace.”