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HomeCOVID-19How Big Pharma sold vaccines to the world – Part 4 

How Big Pharma sold vaccines to the world – Part 4 


During the Easter break we are repeating some important articles. This was first published on February 11, 2023. 

In the fourth and final part of Paula Jardine’s revelatory investigation into the vaccine movement’s takeover of global public health policy, she explains how the imposition of immunisation schedules and monitoring innovations and the normalisation of ‘life-course’ vaccination has made unprecedented billions for pharmaceutical producers and their investors at the same time as hijacking the world’s health resources. 

ADDING vaccines to countries’ immunisation schedules is meant to be the function of expert advisory groups. It can also be influenced by lobbying, sponsored by industry, to create the perception of a public demand for increased access to certain vaccines.  

Indeed, many of governments’ senior medical and scientific advisers have close links with, or interests in, pharmaceutical companies and the crossovers are multiple.   

Take a closer look for instance at the Supporting Active Aging Through Immunisation (SAATI) partnership. It was founded in 2011, as the so-called Decade of the Vaccine began, at the instigation of the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMo).  

In 2013, SAATI entered into a collaboration agreement via a memorandum of understanding with Vaccines Europe. This organisation was previously known as European Vaccine Manufacturers, the vaccines specialist group within the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Association. 

 A 2014 SAATI report calling for more adult immunisation was prepared by Hill and Knowlton, the international PR agency and funded by Pfizer.  

Professor Dr Javier Garau, chair of SAATI, said: ‘As we get older, the immune system weakens, increasing our risk of contracting infectious diseases. Furthermore, acquired immunity to certain infections (tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria) declines with age; due to this, vaccination and revaccination are a particularly relevant prevention strategy for adults.   

‘We are determined to engage with all relevant stakeholders to make life-course immunisation the norm as part of healthy ageing, public health or prevention strategies.’ 

The acquired immunity Garau speaks of comes from vaccines and the decline in protection over time is called secondary vaccine failure. Vaccines do not confer lifelong immunity. As the protection conferred fades, more vaccination is required. 

CoMo was created in 1994 and receives funding by Pfizer, Sanofi and GSK. One American charity affiliated to it, the Emily’s Dash Foundation, successfully lobbied the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lower the age at which children could be given a meningitis vaccine.   

CoMo receives additional financial support from the Coalition for Life-Course Immunisation (CLCI)whose individual sponsors include MSD, Sanofi-Pasteur and Vaccines-Europe and whose members are Moderna, Sanofi-Pasteur, MSD, Novavax, Pfizer, Seqirus, Takeda and VBI Vaccines.  

Seqirus is under contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a US government agency, to develop next-generation self-amplifying mRNA vaccines for influenza. It is also developing new Covid-19 vaccines using technology that purports to have fewer side-effects than first generation mRNA gene therapy vaccines.-

The World Bank has now ‘financialised’ epidemics and pandemics through bond issues, making them a vehicle for profit that entrenches their permanency. Vaccine bonds were introduced in 2011 to finance GAVI. In 2017, before we’d even heard of Covid-19, a pandemic bond and a finance facility had been introduced. In May 2021, 750million dollars in Covid-19 vaccine bonds underwritten by the Rockefeller-linked JP Morgan Bank were released.  

‘No one in the world is safe from the threat of Covid-19 until everyone is safe,’ said Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI Alliance. ‘And this transaction will help us supply lower-income countries with the vaccine doses they need to roll back the pandemic in its most acute phase. 

‘Proceeds from the bonds will also strengthen GAVI’s continuing support for its core vaccine programmes to ensure that routine immunisation does not fall behind and hard-earned gains against vaccine-preventable disease are not lost.’ 

All but the very poorest countries are expected to take on additional debt burden to purchase and distribute the vaccines. By June 2021, reluctant to do so, developing countries had only availed themselves of 3.9billion dollars of the 100billion dollars the World Bank had set aside to finance Covid vaccines. 

It is hard to see Covid-19 vaccines as anything other than a cash cow for the industry. In February 2021, two months after the UK’s watchdog Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency 

 (MHRA) issued a temporary use authorisation for Pfizer’s vaccine, the firm’s chief financial officer, Frank D’Amelio, told investors the profit margin for the vaccine was in the upper 20 per cents.  

That was based on what he called ‘pandemic pricing’ – charging 19.50 dollars per dose compared with a normal price of up to 175 dollars. He added that the percentage could go higher depending on economies of scale.

Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said ‘a durable Covid-19 vaccine revenue stream like is happening in flu’ was likely for the firm, because booster shots would be needed and emerging variant strains would have to be countered. 

The Covid vaccines, smashing conventional wisdom, were cleared for use in what were meant to be exceptional circumstances. Bourla said: ‘I believe the Covid thing has created a new normal.’ 

Even at discounted ‘pandemic pricing’ levels, the financial bonanza for the firm was astronomical. In November 2021, Pfizer executives told institutional investors the 39billion dollars in revenues from its Covid-19 vaccine accounted for 44 per cent of its record 88billion dollars total revenue for the year.   

In the euphoria following the granting of emergency use authorisations for the Covid vaccines and the huge profits, many new vaccines are being planned and industry expectations have been raised.  

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this investigation, the international health policy expert William Muraskin warned in 2017 that ‘an all-out war on microbes is being planned right now by eradication proponents who intend to prevail regardless of developing-country governments’ or their peoples’ choices.’  

Like the ‘war or terror’, it was an open-ended concept, ambiguous and useful to justify a range of actions. 

Muraskin argues that vaccination has been prioritised at the expense of, and to the detriment of, the already limited resources of the health systems of developing countries.  

Covid-19 has now hijacked the resources of the industrialised world’s health systems and undermined their economies in an unprecedented way. Israel has just authorised its fourth booster in a year, even as the toll of adverse events and deaths mounts in their wake. It is now evident that the revenue stream is for the time being more ‘durable’ than any protection derived from the vaccines.  

The public health agenda was long ago seized by private interests. The campaign to eradicate Covid-19 and other diseases through vaccination reflects the biases of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance partners, and more especially those of its founders.  

The rationale may be questionable, but the approach is certainly lucrative. Eradication appears a fools’ game, but one in which we will all be forced to participate if vaccination passports become a permanent mechanism for accessing our everyday lives. 

As of 2013, a pipeline of 120 new vaccines was in development and only half were directed at tropical diseases afflicting developing countries. There are more now.  

How many of these are destined to be added to national immunisation schedules and indiscriminately used? How many might become mandatory? Society needs a wider debate on the merits of the war on microbes before it sweeps us all away.  

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Paula Jardine
Paula Jardine
Paula Jardine is a writer/researcher who has just completed the graduate diploma in law at ULaw. She has a history degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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