Washington – Press reports indicated that the American companies “Pfizer” and “Moderna” could reap more than $50 billion in financial revenues as a result of sales of the Corona vaccine this year.
The magnitude of the expected financial profits has led some to question whether it is right for these major pharmaceutical companies to effectively benefit from the epidemic, especially in light of the commitments of competitors such as “Johnson & Johnson” and “AstraZeneca” to sell their vaccines on a non-profit basis.
Pfizer expects earnings to reach $26 billion this year; Profits for the first quarter of 2021 were 44% higher than they were in 2020.
Likewise, Moderna expects to achieve $18.4 billion, bringing in multi-billion dollar profits for the first time.
From a moral point of view, one might find that such huge amounts of profits are unacceptable, at a time when countless economic sectors have suffered from the consequences of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, such as aviation, tourism, arts, theater and sports activities, to name a few, due to the consequences of closures and social restrictions.
On the other hand, it can be argued that pharmaceutical companies have both a commercial and a social responsibility to make a profit to supply the world with vaccines, and in fact, corporate law supports this position.
One of the most important tasks of companies – including Pfizer and Moderna – is to maximize profit for its investors as a traditional corporate goal, on the other hand, the two companies also have responsibilities towards their surroundings and society as a whole, and in this case we are talking here about a population of more than 7.7 billion people .
To finance costly research and develop basic products, shareholders in corporate capital play an important role, and bear a significant risk if efforts to find a vaccine fail, and the two companies also bear significant reputation and credibility risks if they fail.
Moderna’s share price has risen by more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has risen by 600%, and as a result, the COVID-19 pandemic has created at least 9 new billionaires after the shares of vaccine-producing companies rose.
The list of new billionaires is led by the CEO of Moderna, Stefan Bancel, and Agor Shah, CEO of Pfizer’s partner in the production of the vaccine Biontech, according to an analysis by the People Vaccine Alliance, an active group that includes Oxfam and the United Nations Program Joint HIV/AIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance says the wealth of directors of the nine vaccine companies highlights the stark inequality caused by the pandemic.
The nine new billionaires have a combined fortune of $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries.
The director of health policy at Oxfam Ann Marriott said – in a statement – that these billionaires are the human face of the huge profits that many pharmaceutical companies derive from the monopoly, which they maintain for these vaccines.
She added that these vaccines are funded by public money, and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity.
US President Joe Biden has endorsed the move, which supporters say will help expand global supply and narrow the vaccination gap between rich and poor countries. Opponents, such as Germany, have argued that intellectual property protection is vital to innovation, and argue that removing patents would not increase supply dramatically; This is due to limited production capacity and insufficient vaccine components.
According to the World Health Organization, 87% of vaccine doses went to high- or middle-income countries, while low-income countries received only 0.2%, and the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund Gita Gopinath indicated that 60% of the world’s population will be vaccinated by mid-year. 2022 will cost only 50 billion dollars.
Albert Burla, CEO of Pfizer, said that the company will provide two billion doses of its vaccine to low- and middle-income countries over the next 18 months, and Pfizer expects total sales of the vaccine to reach about $ 26 billion by the end of this year, with a profit margin approaching than 30%.
Burla defended the decision to benefit from the vaccine, saying that his company had taken all the risks to develop it and invested up to two billion dollars in research and development.
The largest vaccination in history
The current global vaccination campaign is the largest in history, and more than 2.5 billion doses have been used in 180 countries around the world – according to data published by Bloomberg – which is enough to fully vaccinate 16.4% of the world’s population, but the distribution was very uneven. ; High-income countries and regions were vaccinated more than 30 times faster than lower-income countries and regions.
Notably, Pfizer and Moderna charge more than $30 for every two doses a person receives from the respective governments.
Borla said last May that his company had agreed to supply 116 countries for a total of 2.7 billion doses before the end of 2021, and 40% of the doses, or more than a billion doses, are expected to go to middle and low-income countries.