On April 12, 1955, Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk who owned the patent to the polio vaccine. “Well, the people, I would say,” Salk responded. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Right on the first point, irrelevant hyperbole on the second, according to Slatecom.
The public voluntarily funded the vaccine’s incredibly expensive research and field testing.
In the single year that the polio vaccine was unveiled, 80 million people donated money to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which spearheaded the vaccine effort. Many donors could only afford a few cents, but gave anyway (hence the foundation’s modern name, the March of Dimes
There was near unanimity within the organization that the public had already paid for the polio vaccine through their donations, and patenting it for profit would have represented double charging. That’s what Jonas Salk should have said to Murrow—not that all vaccines belong to the people, but rather that this vaccine belonged to the people.
And besides, when they looked it up, the vaccine didn't meet the 'novelty' requirement.