A COVID19 vaccine that has been developed by Moderna has been proved to be one of the most effective tools against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Now the company is racing for big profits as it has been supplying most of its doses exclusively to rich countries while keeping its vaccine out of reach of low-income nations across the world. As per the report, Moderna is earning its profits in billions while poor countries still wait for vaccine doses. An organization known as Airfinity has revealed that after coming up with a groundbreaking vaccine for COVID19 with the help of the US government, Moderna has been shipping a large share of its doses to high-income nations as compared to any other vaccine makers. Airfinity keeps a track of vaccine shipments.
As per the data from Airfinity, only 1 million doses of Moderna’s COVID19 shot have been shipped to nations that have been classified as low-income countries by the World Bank. Pfizer has shipped around 8.4 million doses of its COVID19 vaccine to these countries while Johnson & Johnson, which has come up with a single shot COVID19 vaccine has shipped nearly 25 million doses to these poor nations. The government officials of a handful of middle-income nations that have been able to sign a deal with Moderna have said that most of these nations have not been able to receive any doses so far. As per the report, at least three middle-income nations have paid more than the US and European Union for the doses to Moderna.
Countries like Thailand and Columbia have paid premium costs for the doses of Moderna shots. The company has delayed the doses that have been promised to Botswana. Tunisia has not been able to get in touch with the company. Moderna trades only in COVID19 vaccine unlike other vaccine makers such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca that have a wide range of drugs and other products. That is the reason; the future of the Massachusetts-based firm depends on the commercial success of its COVID19 shot.
A former chief of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Tom Frieden has said that the company is not concerned about its social responsibility other than earning maximum return on its investment. On the other hand, the officials from Moderna have said that they are doing their best to produce as many doses as possible at the earliest but their manufacturing capacity is limited. They have said that all doses that have been manufactured this year are being used to complete existing orders from governments like the European Union (EU). The US government as well has been quite upset with Moderna for not making its shot accessible to low-income nations. The Biden government has been mounting pressure on the company to ramp up its production at its US-based plants.
The US government has been pushing Moderna officials to license the technology of the company to foreign manufactures so that they can produce doses for overseas markets. The officials from the company have been trying to defend the company against these accusations. They have said that they are scaling up their vaccine production so they can make at least 1 billion doses available to low-income nations by 2022. Last week, Moderna has announced that the company is going to start a factory in Africa without giving any further details. Moderna officials have been in talks with the US government about selling doses at low cost to the federal government that will be later donated to low-income nations, the same way as Pfizer has decided to do. However, the matter is still under discussion. Stephane Bancel, the executive head of Moderna has said that it is disheartening to see that poor nations have not been able to access the required doses but the situation has not been in his hand.
Bancel has said that his company has tried and failed to push governments to provide the flow of money to shoot up the production capacity of the company last year. He has said that the decision of per dose cost depends on many factors such as the number of orders and the income of the country. A year after since rich countries have been sprinting to immunize their populations against the dreaded disease, now the focus has shifted to supply shortages that exist in many low-income nations across the world. As per the data, dozens of poor nations in Africa and the Middle East have inoculated fewer than 10 percent of their populations so far.
In the month of August, Johnson & Johnson as well has faced a lot of criticisms after a report has come out that the company has been exporting a major share of its COVID19 shot doses produced in South Africa to high-income nations. The US government is upset with Moderna, as the company is showing no cooperation even after being provided with critical assistance. Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well have helped Moderna to come up with the vaccine. The US government has granted a fund worth $1.3 billion for clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine and other studies. The US has preordered the doses of Moderna’s unauthorized shot worth $1.5 billion to ensure that the company will have a market. Initially, Moderna and Pfizer COVID19 shots have been proved to be equally potent. However, recent studies show that Moderna shot is somewhat better than Pfizer shot and it offers long-term protection and is easy to ship and store.
It is unknown how many deals Moderna has signed with individual governments. Moderna and its distributors are selling their shots to nearly 22 countries along with the EU. None of these countries fall under the category of low-income nations. The Philippines is the only nation that has been tagged as a low-middle income nation. Only a few nations have revealed the amount they are paying to the company for the doses. The US has paid nearly $15 to $16.5 for each shot, while the EU has paid around $22.50 to $25.50 per shot to Moderna. Botswana, Columbia, and Thailand have been paying nearly $27 to $30 for each Moderna dose. Experts have said that low-income nations are in a weak bargaining position due to the lack of transparency about how much other countries are paying for each Moderna shot.