Big Pharma, one of the most lucrative industries in the world, does not usually give priority to vaccine development, as it is financially risky and other drugs are more profitable.
The public spends billions to help with the research and development of commercial drugs, but usually only a fraction of this amount goes to fund vaccine development.
The Coronavirus has turned the tables: The stepchild of the drug industry now gets full attention – and huge public funding.
The reporters of Investigate Europe followed the public money spent on the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine and found that most of these grants and loans are given without the necessary conditions to ensure global supply and a fair access. If too little is done to prevent “vaccine nationalism,” in the end the public will pay the price.
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Business interests vs vaccine idealism
Ingeborg Eliasson traces the genesis of the Coalition for Epidemic Prepared Innovations (CEPI). The organisation, which came into existence at Davos in 2017, aims to make the distribution of vaccines more equitable. However, even before the Covid-19 pandemic shook the world in 2020, CEPI witnessed the divergent interests of Big Pharma and vaccine idealists.
Covid Vaccine: All in this Together?
The future development of a Covid-19 vaccine opens up divergent pathways for governments across Europe and the world. If a vaccine can be found, will competition or coordination prevail? Will the needs of the global population take precedence over the demands of the market? Or will vaccine nationalism displace fair distribution?