I posted this on Twitter last night:
If we are short of vaccines why aren’t AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna letting other drug companies manufacture their vaccines that were created at public expense? Is profit more important than speed of delivery?
— Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) January 28, 2021
In the space Twitter allows the argument was under-developed but clear, I hoped, nonetheless.
What we know is that we have a shortage of vaccines.
We also know that public funding has underpinned the production of those vaccines.
And we know we have a pandemic, which by definition is global.
And yet there is no sign that we are seeing what would, in effect, a war style production approach to the production of these vaccines being put in place. Even if some drug companies are likely to profit considerably from this crisis, there is no reason at all why the production of these vaccines need be limited to their production facilities. It is impossible that there are no other facilities that could be used for their manufacture.
So why isnâ€™t that happening?
Are supplies deliberately being kept short?
Or is price being maintained?
Or is this simple failure of government to intervene, in not just the UK, but many other countries?
What I do know is that in wartime this did not happen. Manufacturing was diversified way beyond the original designers of equipment in WW2, for example. That was the only way supply could be sustained. And yet, although we face a crisis at least as bad now, I have heard nothing of this for vaccine manufacture.
So, four questions.
Is this happening, but itâ€™s just not being talked about?
If it isnâ€™tâ€™t happening, why not?
And on the basis of the very safe assumption that more manufacturing capacity exists than is being used, when is something going to be done to address this?
Or, are yet more people going to die needlessly, in many countries?