Friday, November 05, 2021

Big Pharma Deceit

 A key talking point against the free sharing of vaccine recipes was premised on a false assertion.

In response to October 2020 proposal from India and South Africa that the World Trade Organization suspend enforcement of key patent rules so that cheaper, generic versions of Covid-19 treatments and vaccines can get to more people more quickly, the proposal is referred to as a TRIPS waiver, a reference to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Pfizer and Moderna, both of which produce mRNA vaccines, insisted how intellectual property incentivizes creativity, and rewards those who save lives. Sharing vaccine recipes, they claimed was not the panacea because much of the world lacks the facilities and capacity to produce vaccines in a safe and timely manner. Even if we got rid of all intellectual property rules tomorrow, this would do little to boost immediate global vaccine supply.

Big Pharma warned of the laborious and time-intensive process of developing the ability to produce mRNA vaccines specifically. ​

"There is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world. This is a new technology, you cannot go hire people who know how to make mRNA—those people don't exist," Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, said in May.

 ​"Only a few facilities in the world perform some of the critical steps needed to manufacture mRNA vaccines," industry trade group PhRMA, which represents Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, asserted in March.

It turns out not to be true. 

On October 22, the New York Times ran a story titled, ​"Here's Why Developing Countries Can Make mRNA Covid Vaccines".

NYT identified 10 different facilities in India, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, Argentina and Indonesia that are strong candidates for producing mRNA vaccines. ​

"The key criteria include existing facilities, human capital, the regulatory system for medicines and the political and economic climate," writes journalist Stephanie Nolen. Some of the facilities are already producing other vaccines, or testing or making their own mRNA vaccines. In other words, Global South countries could absolutely start producing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, if the companies would only tell them how. 

 Indonesia's health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said at a World Health Organization event that the country has the capacity to ​"upscale our vaccine productions to meet regional and global demand." 

"Moderna's former director of chemistry estimates that modern factories could start manufacturing mRNA vaccines within a few months if sufficient know-how is transferred," Oxfam noted.

According to recent research by Doctors Without Borders, Africa-based manufacturers are currently prepared to make mRNA vaccines if provided access to the necessary production information.

 The pharmaceutical industry was not driven by altruistic motives: the desire to protect innovation and research, and ensure safe and responsible vaccine production. Instead, they sought to protect pharmaceutical monopolies and their profits.  The drug industry has shown it would rather build its own facilities from scratch—like the BioNTech facilities in Rwanda and Senegal, which won't even start construction until mid-2022—than give Global South countries the ability to produce vaccines themselves. 

"It's clear that Pfizer and Moderna cannot supply enough vaccines to make sure everyone on the planet has access, so they must figure out a way to share the technology and know-how," Robbie Silverman, Oxfam America's senior manager for private sector engagement, said in a statement. "Pfizer's and Moderna's inability to produce enough vaccines threatens global public health and the world economy—as long-term investors, we urge these companies to take immediate action to save lives."

"Continued vaccine inequality will not only cause more deaths and suffering around the world, it will also devastate our global economy, possibly to the tune of trillions of dollars," Silverman added. "While a few are profiting handsomely, investors recognize the dangers of vaccine apartheid and are seeking to hold these companies accountable."

In its Moderna shareholder resolution, Oxfam urged the corporation to share its "intellectual property and technical knowledge ('know-how') to facilitate the production of Covid-19 vaccine doses by additional qualified manufacturers located in low- and middle-income countries."

"Independent estimates indicate that Moderna will miss its 2021 production target of one billion doses by 33%," the document reads. "To ensure equitable access, Moderna should transfer the intellectual property and know-how associated with its vaccines to allow manufacture in low- and middle-income countries. Pressure, including by the U.S. government, is intensifying on Moderna to make such transfers."

Taken from here

Opinion | Big Pharma Lies About Vaccine Patents to Protect Profits | Sarah Lazare (

'Unprecedented' Shareholder Resolutions Call on Pfizer, Moderna to Share Vaccine Tech (

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