Mar 15, 2021
Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, is making a killing out of the manufacture and sale of its COVID-19 vaccine. It expects that the vaccine will generate more than $3 billion in profits in 2021, according to Bloomberg. And Pfizer stands to make even more from the vaccine in coming years, since the COVID virus will most likely be around for a long time.
Pfizer did not do most of the work that went into the development of this vaccine. No, that work was done by hundreds of scientists working in universities or government institutes over many decades in many countries with funding supplied by governments, using taxpayers’ money.
All Pfizer did was to take the vaccine research and development done by others and privately commercialize it. Pfizer then carried out clinical trials to get the approval of the medical regulatory agencies. Pfizer used human subjects at 150 different sites in the U.S., Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina. Once the vaccine was approved for use, not all those countries got Pfizer’s vaccine, because Pfizer decides who gets what, based on its own profit targets.
To reach such greedy profit-driven goals, Pfizer is taking whole populations of countries hostage. For example, the Israeli government is currently boasting that they are achieving the highest vaccination rate in the world. Fifty-four percent of Israelis had received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as of March 9, 2021.
This “success” was a result of the political calculations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Faced with a hard-fought and close election campaign coming up in March, as well as myriad corruption charges that are going to trial, he has touted the high vaccination rate as a way of saving himself.
Of course, Pfizer was ready to collude … for a very high price. It got the Israeli government to agree to an exclusive deal to buy only Pfizer’s vaccine, and to pay Pfizer about 50% more than the U.S. government paid, doubling Pfizer’s Israeli profits. Israel also agreed with Pfizer to share countrywide data on the vaccine. That is, Pfizer exploited millions of “lucky” Israeli vaccine recipients as experimental human subjects and generated an important set of data to understand the effectiveness of this vaccine on large populations, data with which Pfizer solidified its market lead and its skyrocketing profits.
But not every group in Israel got vaccinated. Migrant workers, refugees, and some 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied territories did not get the Pfizer vaccine or any vaccine at all in Israel, thus reinforcing the Israeli government’s repressive policies.
So, this collusion between Pfizer and Israel came with huge consequences to the Israeli population.
On the other hand, some countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, did not get the vaccine because those governments did not fully abide with Pfizer’s vaccine imperialism. Pfizer demanded that the Argentine government compensate Pfizer for the cost of any future civil lawsuits. So, if someone filed a civil lawsuit against Pfizer in Argentina and won, the government of Argentina and not Pfizer would pay the compensation, even for Pfizer’s own negligence and mistakes. As if this was not enough, Pfizer also demanded that the government put up sovereign assets, such as bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings as collateral against the cost of any future lawsuits. Argentina refused to go this far and could not get the Pfizer vaccine.
This is how companies turn the scientific work and development funded by others into their own skyrocketing profits, and how a simple vaccine that should be used to uphold peoples’ health is turned into a disgusting and barbaric political tool to further the power of despots and their billionaire friends.