Good intentions…

Good intentions…

Should you be emboldened by vaccination and intrepid enough to make your way to a pub, here are a couple of factoids that might prepare you for a pub quiz…

  • The Ford Motor Company makes one new car every second.


  • McDonalds sell 1.5m Big Macs every day.

Wow… I’ll leave you to make the link between the number of burgers and the size of American gas-guzzlers.

Another one? How about this?

  • Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are making $1,000 profit every second, out of Covid vaccinations.

New figures from the Peoples’ Vaccine Alliance tell me;

‘… the companies behind two of the most successful COVID vaccines – Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna – are making combined profits of $65,000 every minute. The figures come from the latest company reports.

That, you might conclude, is a pile-of-dosh at a time when less than 1% of Pfizer’s total vaccine supplies have found their way to low-income countries.

Moderna has delivered just 0.2%. Meanwhile, 98% of people in low-income countries have not been fully vaccinated.

I guess you could take the view that private companies are entitled to make a profit and if they don’t, they can’t pay dividends to shareholders (like your pension fund, maybe), or have enough money to invest in the next wonder drug.

It’s not cheap to invent a pill. 

Based on data for 63 therapeutic agents developed by 47 companies, between 2009 and 2018, the median R&D investment required to bring a new drug to market was around $985 million. The mean was estimated to be $1,336 million.

Let’s call it a $billion.

What is more interesting… the three Covid-vaccineers have received funding of over $8bn from the US Treasury.

There have been wide calls, from the likes of the White House and WHO, for pharma to transfer vaccine technology and know-how, to producers in low and middle-income countries.

This would drive down prices and potentially, save millions of lives.

The boss of Pfizer described the idea of knowledge-transfer as ‘dangerous nonsense’ because;

‘…the WHO gave emergency use approval of the Indian vaccine Covaxin, earlier this month,’


‘… [this] is clear evidence that developing countries have the capacity and expertise.’


There is a technical way around this, the WHO could trigger the slip-off-the-tongue process known as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights… TRIPS, to you and me.

It would involve big-pharma suspending intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines, tests, treatments, and other medical tools by agreeing to the proposed waiver under the TRIPS Agreement.

There is a further call on governments to use all their legal and policy tools to demand that big-pharma share COVID-19 data, know-how, and technology with the WHO’s, COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and the South Africa mRNA Technology Transfer Hub.

So, the mechanisms exist, but not the will. Apparently, amongst other countries, the UK is blocking the TRIPS proposal.

If you are really interested in TRIPS you’d better start booking a trip…

… to Geneva, there’s a World Trade Organisation, Ministerial Summit at the end of this month, where it’s on the agenda.

Whilst you are there, book a table at Le Bologne, Rue Necker and order the celeriac risotto. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And, it’s not just these pharma-three… I was surprised to learn AstraZeneca, who de-risked Covid-vax development with pre-orders from the UK and US governments, has signed a series of for-profit agreements for next year.

The company had previously said it would only start to make money from the vaccine when Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic…

… and the great soothsayer, Astra-boss, Pascal Soriot has divined ‘the disease is now endemic’. Thank you Pascal…

… it may be all over in the Astra boardroom, but not, I suspect, if you are working in ITU or living in South Sudan.

Back to the pub quiz.

What is Saint Bernard of Clairvaux famous for?

It was he, who wrote;

‘..  “L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs”. ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

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