Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Coronavirus Novel I'm Not Writing

            A woman gets herself tested for the COVID-19 and they find something they’ve never seen before in the antibody test.  Re-tested and examined, it turns out her blood holds the key to the cure.  Pharmaceutical companies will pay millions for proprietary rights to that key and they will, of course, disseminate it to the world . . . for a price.  Also, though she will be vastly wealthy, the company will control her blood for the rest of her life, meaning among other things she can only ever be examined by their doctors and any blood test she ever gets for any reason will go through them.
            She considers turning it over to the government, for the good of the country and, eventually, the world.  They will pay (way less than a corporation) and they won’t control her blood forever.  But she has deep moral reservations about their politics.  Maybe she could use her cure-blood as leverage, hold it hostage until the government takes some real and permanent steps towards, for instance, improved climate policy.  But should a single person get to dictate policy that will change the course of an entire country?
            She could give it to another country, one that seems to be handling things well, one that seems more likely to share without excessive demands.  But doesn't she have an obligation to her country and its people, which exist beyond a transitory government she may not agree with?  What are all the things her country has given her and should she be thinking in those terms?  Should she consider emigrating?  Does she need to?  What does it mean to be a citizen of a country?
            How about a non-national, she thinks, like the World Health Organization?  Probably she wouldn’t get paid.  The resources at their disposal might be minuscule compared to a private company, so the cure would likely be slower in coming, but would theoretically be distributed more evenhandedly, or at least without as much consideration for profit.
            How does she help the most people as quickly as possible and how much does she consider helping herself?