One justification frequently used by the pharmaceutical industry is that patents and intellectual ownership is required to recoup the money invested in the early R and D stage of the development of a drug.
At least 97% of the funding for the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been identified as coming from taxpayers or charitable trusts, according to the first attempt to reconstruct who paid for the decades of research that led to the lifesaving formulation. Less than 2% of the identified funding came from private industry, the researchers said.
Using two different methods of inquiry, researchers were able to identify the source of hundreds of millions of pounds of research grants from the year 2000 onwards for published work on what would eventually become the novel technology that underpins the jab, as well as funding for the final product.
The overwhelming majority of the money, especially in the early stages of the research, came from UK government departments, British and American scientific institutes, the European commission and charities including the Wellcome Trust.
“Our study shows that quite the opposite is true: public investment and international collaboration gave us the Covid-19 vaccines,” the team of researchers, from the advocacy group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines UK, said. “We need to stop perpetuating the narrative in which the private sector and profit are the sole drivers of innovation, and recognise that the life-saving ChAdOx vaccine technology was developed with near total governmental and charitable funding.”