Project Bug Files

Covid Controversies

Greed

Pandemic Profiteering

As well as causing a worldwide humanitarian crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic has spawned numerous controversies regarding how much power governments have over an individual’s freedom of choice. Government mandates on masks, lockdowns, and social distancing have fueled countless debates on the ethics of such power, causing many to question whether the government is looking out for the health and wellbeing of the people, or whether there might be ulterior motives to such sweeping measures. But the greatest debate by far is over the vaccine mandates, many of which are still in place despite growing evidence that vaccines are far less reliable than they were originally claimed to be. However, the most heated debates have arisen in light of the monumental profits big pharma are raking in as a result of the vaccine sales.

Recent numbers have shown that revenues for some big pharma companies have almost doubled as the result of Covid, with both vaccines and treatments bringing in the big bucks. In 2021, Pfizer reported a revenue of 81.3 billion dollars, nearly twice its revenue of 41.9 billion dollars from the previous year ─ a full 36.8 billion dollars of which came from the Covid vaccine itself (1). Under any circumstances, such a spike in revenue would be a source of curiosity, if not debate. However, under the extraordinary circumstances of the global pandemic, such a rise in profits warrants more than just a raised eyebrow or two. In fact, some have called for a full-on investigation to determine just how ethical these profits really are.

While profits alone aren’t necessarily a cause for investigation or concern, profits that are the result of government mandates are a different matter. This is particularly true when you consider the sheer number of countries implementing mandates in one form or another. Although some countries are less strict in terms of vaccine mandates, others are demanding full compliance from almost all citizens. (2) And the fact that such mandates can be found in dozens of countries means that big pharma companies are profiting from the global population, something that raises significant ethical concerns.

One of the things that stands out in terms of this profit spike is the very nature of pharmaceutical development. What most people don’t know is that every drug available on the market today was developed largely by taxpayer money. Simply put, governments provide billions of dollars in research subsidies to colleges, universities, and pharmaceutical companies every year. Unfortunately, while regular investors see massive dividends for their investment, taxpayers see no return at all. Instead, they have to pay out of pocket for most prescription drugs, meaning that they are essentially paying for a product they helped to produce. In the case of the Covid vaccine, the situation becomes even more bizarre, with taxpayer money not only funding the research, but also covering the purchasing costs. In 2020 alone, not only did the US provide Moderna with $1B in research funds, it also placed a $1.5B supply order, shipping a total of $2.5B of taxpayer money without any consent from the people actually providing the cash. (3)

This paints the notion that the government is providing the vaccine for ‘free’ in a whole other light. The truth of the matter is that every taxpayer has already purchased their vaccine, whether they wanted to or not. Which leads to yet another issue, one that drives this scenario from bad to worse in a very real way ─ just how much is the profit margin on Coronavirus vaccines? While figures vary, suggesting that profit margins may be around twenty percent or so, there are other reports coming out that claim big pharma are raking in even higher profits. One such report claims that the Covid vaccine profit margin is around seventy percent, making this nothing short of pandemic profiteering if this proves to be true. (4) And the fact that governments are actively mandating vaccines, while providing no oversight on the profits being made, presents an ethical issue of an almost unprecedented scale.

Unfortunately, some mainstream media outlets choose to sweep these facts under the rug. Rather than addressing the issue in an honest and sincere way, they instead choose to paint the reports of profiteering in a negative light, suggesting that the numbers are exaggerated, and thus the concerns overall are wholly invalid. (5) In the end, the never-ending chain of jabs, boosters, and even more jabs ensures that big pharma will continue to see record increases in profits thanks to the pain, suffering, and tax dollars of countless ordinary citizens the world over. And while billions of dollars go to the investors, hundreds of millions of people continue to struggle as the global economy has yet to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Monopolising Medicine

From its origins in Wuhan, China, Covid 19 has spread far and wide to all corners of the globe, affecting people of every race, creed, and culture without exception. While terms like ‘humanitarian crisis’ are often used to increase the impact of an otherwise underwhelming story, no better term could be found to accurately describe the current pandemic. It’s in such desperate times that humanity cries out for someone, or some group, to rescue the world and make things better again. And that is where medical science, particularly big pharma, enters the scene.

Unfortunately, rather than coming in to save the day, it seems big pharma is more interested in serving the interests of their investors, engaging in everything from price gouging to restricting vaccine production in places that need it most. Although painting a heroic image on the outside, it’s what goes on behind closed doors that reveals the true nature of the beast. In the end, preserving their monopoly on medicine appears to be more important to big pharma than actually preserving human life.

Perhaps the most stark proof of this profits-over-people philosophy can be seen in the case of Africa. As of the writing of this article, it is estimated that fewer than twenty percent of African adults are fully vaccinated. (6) Alternatively, over sixty percent of people are vaccinated in more affluent nations, particularly in the global north. And yet, despite increased pressure from such organisations as the World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch, pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Moderna seem unwilling to change course.

The issue here is one of production. According to big pharma, only a few facilities around the world are capable of producing Covid vaccines. However, reports from HRW suggest that at least 100 facilities meet the requirements necessary for vaccine production. (7) In fact, as many as eight companies in Africa could start production immediately, thus helping to fill the overwhelming global demand for vaccines. This is in addition to the efforts made by the WHO to transfer the necessary technology to South Africa in order to expedite vaccine production where it is in shortest supply. (8) Unfortunately, despite all of this, big pharma has yet to relinquish their monopolistic stranglehold on the intellectual property rights of the vaccine, thus ensuring that they control all vaccine production worldwide.

As if limiting production weren’t bad enough, several studies have revealed that big pharma are using this humanitarian crisis to increase their profits exponentially. Some estimates indicate that companies are charging as much as twenty-four times the cost of production for Covid vaccines, making their profit margin abusively high. (9) Worst still, other estimates place this figure even higher, which if true, would make this nothing short of a criminal conspiracy. The fact is, not only does limited supply affect which countries get the lion’s share of the vaccines, but the overwhelming cost ensures that medical treatment goes to the wealthy countries first, leaving the rest to fend for themselves.

But the problem doesn’t just lie at the feet of big pharma companies. Rather, global governments need to take their share of the blame as well. After all, if governments aren’t there to protect the people during a humanitarian crisis, then what is their point at all? Many say that, at the very least, a cap should be placed on the amount of profit a company can make during a global pandemic. However, there are those who would push for even stricter measures, demanding that vaccines and medicines during a pandemic be completely non-profit in nature. (10) Unfortunately, for now it seems that it’s business as usual for big pharma and the governments they hold sway over. Perhaps it’s the fact that money holds more value than human life in the eyes of some that is the real humanitarian crisis facing us today.

References

  1. https://www.statista.com/chart/25434/pfizer-annual-revenue/
  2. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/countries-making-covid-19-vaccines-mandatory-2021-08-16/
  3. https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/after-nearly-1b-research-funding-moderna-takes-1-5b-coronavirus-vaccine-order-from-u-s
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD3KaRss2Fg
  5. https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-270861995619
  6. https://www.afro.who.int/news/africas-covid-19-vaccine-uptake-increases-15
  7. https://qz.com/africa/2105592/could-african-companies-manufacture-covid-vaccines/
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drug-industry-undermining-who-plans-for-vaccine-manufacture-in-africa#Undermining-public-vaccine-development
  9. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/great-vaccine-robbery-pharmaceutical-corporations-charge-excessive-prices-covid-19
  10. https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o755