Large numbers of people in low-income countries face COVID unprotected, and millions of people would still be alive today if they had had access to a vaccine. Big pharma corporations have been given free rein to prioritize profits ahead of vaccine equality as the richest ten men doubled their fortunes during the pandemic. A new billionaire is being created every 26 hours profiting from vaccines, treatments, tests, etc. PPE. When is enough enough?
It’s just over a year since COVID-19 vaccination programs first began: a miraculous moment that offered hope that humanity could be liberated from this deadly disease. In creating safe and effective vaccines, scientists did their job, but corporate, and world leaders locked this miracle of science behind a wall of profit and monopoly. Despite the current optimism, this pandemic is still very far from over.
The official death toll stands at 5.9 million people, which is widely agreed to be a huge underestimate, especially in developing countries where adequate testing is impossible.
Modelling using measures of excess deaths shows that an estimated 19.6 million people have lost their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic – 3.3 times more than officially recorded. That’s approximately 18 people every minute. A population roughly equivalent to a city the size of Beijing, Mumbai, or Dhaka has likely died as a result of the pandemic.
For every life lost in a rich country another four people have died in a poorer nation, 54% of all deaths caused by COVID-19 have been in low and lower-middle-income countries, where 10.6 million people have died. 2.7 million people are estimated to have died in high-income countries, 14% of global deaths. The richest 10 men doubled their fortunes during the pandemic and a new billionaire is being created every 26 hours. Of those new billionaires, 40 of them have made their billions profiting from vaccines, treatments, tests, and PPE.13PANDEMIC OF GREED
A wake-up call for vaccine equity at a grim milestone
Greed has no conscience.
The cost of a three-month supply of Revlimid, a cancer drug, increased by $3,600 in January 2022—even though its Big Pharma CEO couldn’t justify the price hike. Maybe it was to pay for an excessive CEO salary? Regeneron awarded CEO Len Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., a staggering $135.35 million in 2020 pay. His salary came in at about $1.5 million, and the CEO collected another $3.5 million in cash incentive pay.
But they are not alone. Among the 1,947 Medicare-covered drugs with price increases above the inflation rate in 2020, one-third (668 drugs) had price increases of 7.5% or more – the current annual inflation rate.
Among drugs covered under Part D, 17% (567 drugs) had price increases of 7.5% or more between 2019 and 2020; 11% (1,106 drugs) had price increases above the rate of inflation but below 7.5%; 9% (285 drugs) had price increases below inflation; and 41% (1,385 drugs) had price reductions.
For Part B drugs, 18% (101 drugs) had price increases of 7.5% or more between 2019 and 2020; 30% (173 drugs) had price increases above the rate of inflation but below 7.5%; 6% (35 drugs) had price increases below inflation; and for the remaining 46% (259 drugs), prices decreased.
I get discouraged when I read stories about pharma greed, but it makes me more determined to try and change what I believe to be wrong. Pharma is begging for federal intervention, and at this rate, it won’t be much longer.