A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development about COVID-19 makes clear the obvious: Vaccines were developed in record time because scientists around the world are good at rising above nationalism, and they also rose above commercial interest. In other words, they collaborated and released results freely – no paywalls.
The full report is here. The two most interesting snippets:
Around 75,000 scientific papers on COVID-19 were published in the 11 months to end-November 2020. The United States and China were major contributors, and a quarter of their COVID-19 publications were co-authored with researchers in other countries. The highest level of collaboration was between scientists in the US and in China.
Over three quarters of scientific papers on COVID-19 were published with open access, meaning the content was freely available to other researchers to access, use, modify and share. Around the world, research databases and scientific publishers removed paywalls to foster sharing of knowledge across the scientific community.
The scientific establishment has lots of problems – it is, after all, composed of human beings – but there are times when it reflects the best of what our species can do.