As the demand for COVID-19 vaccines accelerate, the supply continues to be sparse. Stock prices for the few companies which have been able to rush through the emergency approvals for their respective vaccines have soared while the pandemic has killed millions, put hundreds of millions out of work, and reset all our lives.
However, writes California Western Associate Dean for Experiential Learning James Cooper in a co-authored article, published in the Singapore Business Times, there is the potential for a revolving door to develop between government and the pharmaceutical industry.
The authors cite U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous military-industrial complex speech, in which he cautioned the country of the insidious nature of relations between the U.S. government and the suppliers of arms, munitions and other weapons systems, as a warning against the same thing happening today between the U.S. government and Big Pharma.
With Covid-19 variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil spreading rampantly, it is possible these vaccines will require regular updates from the pharmaceutical companies, the authors write. So, like the seasonal flu, we will need yearly shots and/or boosters. Eventually, even children will have to be vaccinated to go to school—a veritable gravy train of revenues.
Vaccines save lives, and there is no intention here to dismiss or devalue the enormous global effort required to rapidly and safely produce a vaccine in months, when the process typically takes years.
However, the unintended consequences of creating a multi-billion dollar vaccine industry that did not exist just a year ago should not be ignored.
There is a risk that science may take a back seat to economics: When faced with the potential of even greater financial rewards, randomized controlled trials and peer-reviewed studies may turn out to be afterthoughts.
To read Professor James Cooper’s complete co-authored article click here.