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Louis Pasteur, the inventor of vaccination,

is often presented as the icon of profitless science and personal sacrifice on the altar of the common good. However, the whole history of its innovations is in fact woven into questions of money.

Louis Pasteur around 1880, in his laboratory in Paris • Credits: Hulton archives - Getty


The story of Pasteur's fortune is not only fascinating to shed light on this lesser-known aspect of the great scientist, who was also an entrepreneur.

Because if capitalism structures well research on Covid 19 today, there would be something a bit naive in imagining that the brake on the massive vaccination of the planet is linked to a belated voracious greed of the big laboratories after a generous golden age which has now passed away.

In fact, the whole history of immunization immediately plunges into questions of money, where intellectual property is also a matter of market value.

If Pasteur “succeeded” as they say it is all the scientific research that developed in the nineteenth century on a market, where discoveries have an economic value, and are monetized.

Louis Pasteur in his office in 1890. • Credits: API

For Pasteur, to monetize his research by defending his intellectual property in science was also to ensure control over his discoveries.

At the end of his life, Pasteur would oversee not only the institute, but also capitalist companies open to great fortunes, such as the Société des bières unalterables, created in March 1873.

This news article has been inspired by the French article "Brevets, vaccins, et "science désintéressée" : la petite entreprise de Louis Pasteur" 

written by Chloé Leprince

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