Nov 23, 2020
The medical search for a COVID‑19 vaccine resembles a gamble on a horse race. On September 9, Pfizer announced that its vaccine provides protection for people against COVID‑19 with 90% efficacy. A week later, Moderna topped Pfizer’s claim with a vaccine with a 94.5% effective rate. A few days later, Pfizer said they re‑analyzed the results, and that their vaccine provides 95% protection.
Wall Street reacted to this “positive” news with the overall stock market soaring to record highs. Pfizer’s CEO Bourla sold $5.6 million in stock the very day his company made its first announcement, making an instant fortune.
These companies’ press releases were based on clinical trials, that is, experiments in which tens of thousands of volunteers were vaccinated. However, when the press releases were carefully read, it was recognized that these companies were reporting “interim” results, and not final results. That is, these companies had not yet completed these human experiments and had not fully analyzed the results.
Usually the final results of such clinical trials are published in full detail in scientific journals in order to be analyzed by other scientists and regulatory medical bodies of the government, like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Typically, several more clinical trials are required before decisions on the effectiveness are reached and the vaccines are then applied to the population in large scale.
Instead, by taking all these short‑cuts, these companies were after quick profits before other companies had a chance to jump into the fray. Right now, there are 53 vaccine candidates in human clinical trials worldwide, and another 155 are in the research and development stage. So, since the other vaccines can also work like those of Moderna and Pfizer, whoever reports their results first gets the attention of the stock market speculators and stuffs their pockets with profits worth tens of billions of dollars.
Moderna, a start‑up company founded in 2010, has never produced a vaccine before, and it has never sold any products. Now it is worth $35 billion. Pfizer’s vaccine is based on the work of another start‑up company, BioNTech, founded in 2008, which also had never produced a vaccine and never sold a product. The value of that company is now said to be $22 billion. As for Pfizer, estimates are that its vaccine alone will bring the company close to $14 billion worldwide in 2021.
That means the vaccine will make a few people billionaires overnight.
Vaccine development should be in response to medical issues and not based on profit. But in the capitalists’ world, profits come first. To capitalists, society’s dire need to find a solution to a deadly pandemic is little more than an opportunity to make enormous profits and gain fabulous wealth.