Letter: ‘Follow the money’ may be more enlightening than following the science

Battle Ground resident Crystal Katzer shares her thoughts on the pharmaceutical companies producing the COVID-19 vaccines

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com

“Follow the money” is a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 film All the President’s Men, which suggests political corruption, however this phrase seems to pertain to anything that involves colossal amounts of money or power. 

Crystal Katzer
Crystal Katzer

Vaccine makers Pfizer Inc, BioNTech and Moderna are expected to gain billions from the COVID-19 booster shots in a market that could rival the $6 billion in annual sales for flu vaccines for many years to come according to health investors. 

AstraZeneca reported $275 million in revenue from its vaccine in just the first three months of this year. However, the vaccine trifecta has together secured over $60 billion in sales of the shots alone in 2021 and 2022. The agreements include supply of the initial two doses of their vaccines as well as BILLIONS of dollars in potential boosters for the wealthiest nations. 

Looking ahead, analysts have the forecast revenue of over $6.6 billion for the Pfizer and BioNTech shot and $7.6 billion for Moderna in 2023, mostly from BOOSTERS SALES. They eventually see the annual market settling at around $5 billion or higher, with additional drugmakers competing for those billions in sales. Johnson and Johnson being one of those competitors. According to CNBC, J&J’s pharmaceutical business, which concocted the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, generated $12.59 billion in revenue, a 17.2 percent year over year increase, and their medical device unit alone generated $6.9 billion.

The question has arisen: When billions of dollars are at stake; do you think ethics are at the forefront? Surely, they must have our best interest in mind? They have proven a long track record of prioritizing corporate profit over health, why would it be any different with a new “world saving vaccine’’ with billions on the table? 

Pfizer, J&J, and AstraZeneca are what we call “habitual offenders, persistently engaging in illegal and corrupt marketing practices, bribing physicians and suppressing adverse trial results.” Pfizer has racked up a whopping $3 billion in criminal convictions, civil penalties and jury awards. J&J is a close second at $2.2 billion for the same offenses. Moderna has also been criticized for the large amount of stock its corporate executives sold after the company announced early positive results in vaccines in May 2020, when its stock price progressed rapidly, even though the results weren’t released in any detail. HOURS after releasing, two Moderna executives sold off almost $30 million in sale shares. Days later, Moderna’s leading shareholder sold one million shares, earning $69.5 million. (I would like to address who stands to make financial gains, but I’m running out of space.) However, former Securities and Exchange Commission officials said the events were “highly problematic” and were most definitely worthy of an investigation. Moderna is also under federal investigation by the FDA and CDC in regards to heart issues after vaccine dose. Moderna has no comment at this time.

We simply cannot let billion-dollar corrupt pharmaceutical corporations be in the driver’s seat to our COVID-19 response. An article in Global Justice from Dec 2020 stated “The pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest and most profitable in the world. Many of the individual corporations that constitute ‘Big Pharma’ enjoy annual revenues well in excess of the majority of countries on the planet. Johnson & Johnson is wealthier than even rich countries like New Zealand and Hungary. Pfizer’s revenues are bigger than oil-rich Kuwait or Malaysia.” All I am saying is we are told daily to “follow the science” when in reality we should be told to “follow the money.”

Crystal Katzer
Battle Ground

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