The Coronavirus pandemic we know as colloquially as “Covid 19” took America by storm with a single US case on January 15, 2020. A year later, we have 25 million active infections and 400,000 Americans have died.
The Trump administration fast-tracked and funded the race for a vaccine, which has borne fruit on multiple fronts. Companies like Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and GlaxoSmithKline used federal funds to research, develop and test effective vaccines.
These companies have, for various reasons, failed to deliver the drugs to the population in an efficient manner. As the Trump regime leaves the White House, President-Elect Joe Biden will need to facilitate the distribution of these drugs, but does he have the pugnacity to handle it?
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In the lead-up to the 2020 election, it was announced that Big Pharma had endorsed Biden. They helped fund his campaign. In fact, Joe Biden was the biggest Democratic beneficiary of Big Pharma campaign donations in 2020. Kamala Harris made the list at number four. Now, the Biden administration will need to curtail the whims of those donors for America to have a chance.
These companies collected billions of taxpayer dollars for the research and funding. Now, with vaccines in hand, those same companies are making significant profits selling the US government the very vaccine it funded. By claiming the patents for these vaccines, the companies that created them can profit again by selling the drugs at higher prices to other buyers worldwide.
If Biden has any hope of getting the vaccine to the people that paid for it in a timely manner, he’ll need to get tough with the very companies that funded his Presidential bid.
Although the idea of a Democratic politician biting the hand that feeds him isn’t exactly a far fetched notion, I find myself doubting his ability to be tough when the situation calls for it. And I’m not alone in my thinking.
According to Statist, as of January 2021, 32% of America felt Biden was a “Very weak” leader. Another 20% called him “Somewhat weak”. When 52% of America uses the term “Weak” in reference to a President, the scrutiny is probably warranted.
In July 2020, when Covid 19 was first gripping the nation’s biggest cities, the need for ventilators could not be satisfied. Likewise, PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, used by nurses and physicians to protect them from communicable diseases, was equally scarce. President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to force companies like General Motors, General Electric, and 3M, (among others) to begin producing those items.
Biden could take a similar approach with drug companies if he had the temerity. Such a move could have negative ramifications for the Biden-Harris team in the next election, considering the sizable contributions Big Pharma, as a whole, has made in the past for both.
Another option for the Democrats would be to invoke the “Government Patent use” law, and simply make the vaccine at government facilities using the existing patents. This would, in essence, remove the supply and demand barrier as well as the cost barrier presented by exclusive retail sales by private companies.
The downside of this plan is simple. Removing the patents from the companies involved would also remove any profit those same companies would have made on the open market. Once again, will Biden have the gall to bite the hand that feeds him?
At the current time, the US is struggling to vaccinate the high-risk population, including health care workers, the elderly, and those with preexisting medical conditions. Our current supply is spread so thin that most people are only getting one course of the two-course therapy.
The US is currently toying with the idea of cutting the Moderna vaccine in half to spread the drug further. The government is currently in talks with Moderna and the Food and Drug Administration to determine the feasibility of the plan. There is still no timetable for the availability of a vaccine for the average American.
As the country struggles to piece together the remaining fragments of their lives, moving on from this virus will need to be our first priority. The economy cannot rebound fully until the virus is under control.
Small businesses that were devastated by the pandemic cannot reopen without intervention. The effort to get the virus under control starts with a widely available, cost-effective vaccine.
The tools to make this a reality are in place. Democrats will need to put the health and wellbeing of the American people above the political funding plan for 2024 to make this possible. We can only hope they have the good sense to do so.