Why Pfizer And Moderna Can’t Be Sued For Covid Vaccine Side Effects
The push to nationalize the vaccine is turning the development of a Covid-19 drug into an arms race that will ultimately harm the economy and public health, experts warn..
Eurasia Group analysts have suggested that tensions between countries over the vaccine and access to it will intensify in the summer, and will last until 2021 or even 2022..
«Countries rich and poor will engage in aggressive procurement schemes with significant political, economic and public health implications», – said in a note earlier this year. «Existing international institutions and agreements will fight to minimize this "vaccine nationalism"».
The research team argued that some governments are already trying to seize first access to a drug through large-scale investment..
«In the United States, the Biomedicine Advanced Research Administration (BARDA) allocates its investments across a range of vaccine candidates in an effort to mitigate financial risks for pharmaceutical companies and secure priority access to a successful vaccine.», – note the authors of the note.
BARDA has financial interests in Moderna vaccine and has invested in early research conducted by French firm Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline.
The US also invested $ 1 billion in May to develop a potential vaccine for AstraZeneca, which is being developed by scientists at the University of Oxford. British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant aims to produce 2 billion doses of vaccine to ship 400 million doses to US and UK by October.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has also received a multi-million dollar investment from the UK government and $ 843 million from several EU countries to ensure that it has access to the vaccine if it proves to be effective..
Meanwhile, the National Research Council under the Canadian government signed an agreement with China’s CanSino Biologics to manufacture the vaccine for clinical trials in Canada this summer, giving Canada «internal access», according to analysts of Eurasia Group.
Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development at Oxford University and former Vice President of the World Bank, also warned that if countries tried to make vaccine distribution a national enterprise, it would have far-reaching economic implications for the world..
«Some competition is good for your health. You don’t want to put all your vaccine development eggs in one basket because it might not work. », – he said. «But it should not be so that the country with the deepest pockets can protect its citizens, and in poor countries people would die.».
Goldin said failure to vaccinate the world’s population against Covid-19 will have long-term economic consequences.
«While parts of the world are affected by the coronavirus, the global economy cannot recover», – he explained. «As long as it is present somewhere, the virus can mutate, it can move, and parts of the world economy will be devastated.».
Speaking last week on CNBC «Street Signs Europe», Tara Raveendran, Head of Life Science Research at Shore Capital, said some researchers such as BioNTech and Moderna are developing mRNA vaccination technology that makes it easy to scale up production.
However, she added that this may not be enough to offset early access programs for some countries..
«This idea that countries that can afford it will primarily seek to provide themselves with a resource that is scarce and needs to be shared equally is definitely a problem.», – she said. «Nonprofits have created a framework to try and ease this burden, but this is what we as an industry must tackle first.».
Ravindran noted that while the large number of different Covid-19 vaccines would make them commercially viable, it could be costly for public health..
«If we resolve the situation in developed markets and the virus continues to thrive in other parts of the world, this is a problem for all of us.», – she told CNBC. «We must be very clear about how we are allocating a very limited resource in the beginning.».
Goldin added that if the virus mutates in parts of the world that cannot access the vaccine, Covid-19 will once again become a public health threat worldwide, even for those who have been vaccinated..
«We don’t know how long these vaccines will last or how effective they are.», – he said. «So this is not a decision, neither on the basis of justice nor on the basis of self-interest».
Distribution and supply problems «much more solvable», than finding and developing a vaccine that actually works, says John Rountree, managing partner of Novasecta, who told CNBC that «we are still far» from creating an effective vaccine.
Equating the current vaccine development situation with the 20th century space race, Rowntree warned that massive public investment will not miraculously provide a shortcut to an effective vaccine..
«Politicians can set aggressive time frames, and this is good for sending a man to the moon.», – he said. «Ultimately, you are dealing with biology, which is a much more complex problem than the engineering problem of sending a man to the moon. And biology doesn’t follow deadlines».
The president Donald Trump voiced ambitions for a vaccine to be developed and distributed by the end of this year, under a project called «Operation Warp Speed». However, medical experts, including a doctor Anthony Fauci, chief expert on infectious diseases in the US government, questioned the achievement of this goal.
At least 160 potential Covid-19 vaccines are currently being tested worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)..