Pharmaceutical giants producing COVID-19 vaccines are open to collaboration with third parties, as long as they retain control on vaccine licenses and profits. EU member states complain about supply shortages, but fail to question the power of Big Pharma.
The vaccine business remains in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry giants. During a European Council video conference on 25-26 February 2021, the 27 heads of state and government of the EU failed to take a hard line against the monopoly of Big Pharma, as manufacturers retain control of vaccine supply, prices and revenue.
In addition to their own factories, pharma giants also rely on smaller, specialized companies located in several European countries. These smaller companies get a slice of the amount equating to about 30 billion euro that the EU will pay for the vaccine supplies. Right now, every single penny stays within this restricted circle.
The announcement that Sanofi has committed to co-produce the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, while waiting for the completion of clinical trials and approval by the European Medicines Agency of its own vaccine (developed with GSK), is just the tip of the iceberg. Our investigation reveals a dense network of connections between the giants that signed supply contracts with the European Commission. In addition to Sanofi/GSK, the signatories include Pfizer/Biontech, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Moderna (both of which have vaccines already approved and marketed). The American company Novavax, French Valneva and Italian Reithera, with whom Brussels has already begun negotiations, will also be added to that list.
The two successive supply cuts decided by AstraZeneca (60 and 50 percent cuts in the first and second quarters of 2021, respectively), Pfizer’s delays, plus Sanof