Thursday, May 06, 2021

Let's Talk About Those Vaccine Research and Development Costs

The US government is now officially on board with "waiving" the patents on several COVID-19 vaccines. Other regimes, and Big Pharma, not so much:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in against a U.S. proposal to waive patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, casting doubt on whether the idea has enough international support to become a reality. The U.S. plan would create "severe complications" for the production of vaccines, a German government spokeswoman said Thursday in an email. Without the incentive of profits from research and development spending, drugmakers might not move as aggressively to make vaccines in the future, the industry has argued.

Via Operation Warp Speed, the US government's vaccine development initiative:

  • Johnson and Johnson received $1.45 billion
  • AstraZeneca received $1.2 billion.
  • Moderna received $2.48 billion.
  • Novavax got $1.6 billion.
  • Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, $2.1 billion.
  • Merck and IAVA only took $38 million, because they apparently never got very far and gave up in January of 2021.
Excepting Pfizer, the research and development funding for COVID-19 vaccines wasn't invested by those companies. It was provided by government.

And on top of government funding for research and development, those companies got advance-guaranteed sales and the "running start" advantage for subsequent sales that comes with being first to market.

Even if "intellectual property" wasn't a bullshit anti-property-rights statist fair tale, the supposed property rights in these patents should fall to the government -- or, more to the point, to the taxpayers -- who paid the way, not to the companies that are already getting over big-time on your dime and will continue to do so, patent protection or not.

The patents shouldn't be "waived" for some particular time or some particular purpose. They should be overturned completely and put into the public domain.

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