QUICK READ: Pharma had a chance to earn some goodwill with a very skeptical public but it’s become obvious that the rush to develop a vaccine is about profit, executive stock, and Wall Street despite potential huge investments from the government.
Moderna, which has received a ton of money from the government, told lawmakers it would not sell its vaccine at cost. Moderna, a 10-year-old vaccine developer based in Cambridge, Mass., that has never brought a product to market, announced in late January that it was working on a coronavirus vaccine. It has issued a stream of news releases hailing its vaccine progress, and its stock has more than tripled, giving the company a market value of almost $30 billion.
Pfizer has said it would also profit and European efforts to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Sanofi, and Johnson & Johnson are mired in wrangles over price, payment method, and potential liability costs, three EU officials told Reuters.
In other words even with an influx of government money pharma companies are going to make huge profit off a potential COVID-19 vaccine. And you though they were doing it to help people…
Corporate Insiders already Profiting
Well-timed stock bets have generated big profits for senior executives and board members at companies developing vaccines and treatments. Moderna insiders have sold shares totaling about $248 million even though they have never, ever brought a vaccine to market.
According to The NY Times “On June 26, a small South San Francisco company called Vaxart made a surprise announcement: A coronavirus vaccine it was working on had been selected by the U.S. government to be part of Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19”.
“Vaxart’s shares soared. Company insiders, who weeks earlier had received stock options worth a few million dollars, saw the value of those awards increase sixfold. And a hedge fund that partly controlled the company walked away with more than $200 million in instant profits.”
Here is how the scheme works:
1ne: A biotech or pharma company issues a press release about their work on a potential COVOD-19 vaccine.
2wo: Wall Street rushes to buy the stock in hopes of winning a big return. The stock price rises quickly because of speculation.
3hree: Corporate insiders sell at a high price. Even if their vaccine fails they have “cashed in” their chips and made enough money to ensure they will never have to work again.
What about government money? Many will say that it wasn’t enough to develop the vaccine and as they set the price the money won’t be enough to provide the vaccine at a low cost to those that need it.
In short, the pharma industry sees a huge reward in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Executives will get rich, Wall Street will buy their stock, and investors who gambled early will make money.
But then it’s always been about money…