From the New York Times news section yesterday:
The Biden administration, siding with some world leaders over the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, came out in favor of waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines.
By Thomas Kaplan, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Rebecca Robbins
Published May 5, 2021
Seems like this wouldn’t do much good at boosting supply in the short run for reasons Alex Tabarrok outlines at Marginal Revolution,
It’s not like the whole world has lots of practice at how to churn out mRNA vaccines at mass scale and all that’s keeping them from doing that are the secret Coke recipes hidden in the Pfizer and Moderna vaults.
And it sure sounds like this decision would do harm in the long run by setting the precedent that if you invent something effective and fast to solve a huge problem, the government will take it away from you, so why bother trying? Here’s Pfizer’s stock price. And Moderna’s dropped from $177.50 on Wednesday at 2:30 pm to $148 at opening on Thursday.
Maybe it would help in the medium term?
But an amusing irony is that Pfizer likely kept Trump from eking out a 269-269 win in the House by deciding in late October to shut down processing of lab samples from its vaccine clinical trial. As Matthew Herper reported in STAT on November 9, 2020 in a jaw-dropping revelation that almost nobody noticed at the time:
Gruber [Pfizer’s SVP for vaccine R&D] said that Pfizer and BioNTech had decided in late October that they wanted to drop the 32-case interim analysis. At that time, the companies decided to stop having their lab confirm cases of Covid-19 in the study, instead leaving samples in storage. The FDA was aware of this decision. Discussions between the agency and the companies concluded, and testing began this past Wednesday. When the samples were tested, there were 94 cases of Covid in the trial. The DSMB met on Sunday.
This means that the statistical strength of the result is likely far stronger than was initially expected. It also means that if Pfizer had held to the original plan, the data would likely have been available in October, as its CEO, Albert Bourla, had initially predicted.
Pfizer didn’t resume checking swabs again until November 4, the day after Election Day, by which point it had blown past not only its first 32 case checkpoint but also its second 62 case checkpoint, and wound up exceeding even its third 92 case checkpoint.
My best guess is that instead of Pfizer reporting on Monday, November 9 its success based on 94 cases, it would have reported success based on its planned 62 case checkpoint on Monday, November 2 if not for shutting down its lab. As I wrote on November 11:
But the corporations weren’t in the mood to follow their own protocol and Trump’s FDA let them get away with stalling on telling voters and investors what had been achieved.
From a political and financial standpoint, the firms likely made the self-interested right decision to delay. Even giant pharmaceutical companies don’t want to wind up on blacklists for vengeance by Democrats. But from a scientific and ethical perspective, it was highly questionable.
The funny thing is the Biden Administration still stabbed the mRNA makers in the back.
I’m guessing Biden can’t remember when he and Kamala were the anti-vaxxers sowing Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about the rushed Trump Vaccine that The Science showed wouldn’t arrive for a long time.
After all, that’s crazy talk! We Democrats have always been at war with Trump’s anti-vaxx strategy.