The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

How Big Business Stands in the Way of Ending the Pandemic

Oct 25, 2021

Many companies have taken advantage of the global pandemic in order to mint enormous profits. One of the most profitable has been Moderna, which developed and marketed a COVID-19 vaccine. Wall Street analysts project that in 2021 Moderna will gain 14 billion dollars in profits on 20 billion dollars in sales—a profit margin of 70%! Based totally on the COVID-19 vaccine!

As a result, a handful of speculators have become incredibly rich very quickly. Moderna CEO Stephan Bancel is now supposed to be worth close to 11 billion dollars.

The development of this vaccine has been presented as some kind of supposed miracle of private enterprise. But it really is a classic example of how capitalists privatize publicly funded research and development. All told, the federal government supplied Moderna with as much as $10 billion in support. That includes direct research grants, rights to patents belonging to the government, and bulk purchases of doses. NIH (National Institutes of Health) scientists even designed the protein molecule that Moderna’s vaccine needed to trigger a human immune response against the virus—the key to making the vaccine work.

Once Moderna had its vaccine, it did not make it widely available all over the world. It sold the vaccine only to the governments of the richest countries, which were in the best position to pay. At the same time, Moderna prevented access to the vaccine to other parts of the world by jealously guarding and controlling the manufacture and sale of the vaccine. Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that developed a similar kind of vaccine, has followed the same profit-based policy.

As a result, much of the global population, especially in the poorer countries of Africa, Asia and South America, has yet to have access to a vaccine and at this late date, nobody knows how long it will take to make the vaccine available to everyone—obviously because in order for this to happen, it has to fit into the Moderna corporate plans.

These profit plans have condemned tens of millions of people to sickness and possible death. And as long as the pandemic rages and the virus continues to spread and mutate in big parts of the world, it increases the chances that even those in the richer countries who have been vaccinated will be reinfected, and thus extend the pandemic’s human toll.

Early in the pandemic, there was the hope that once science came up with effective vaccines, those vaccines would be quickly available everywhere and that would be the end of the pandemic. But standing in the way of that happening has always been the capitalist control over science, medicine and society for its own profits.

The biggest danger to the population is not the virus, but the capitalists’ death grip over the entire society.