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(en) France, UCL AL #313 - Politics, Coronavirus: Public health but private vaccines (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]
Sun, 7 Mar 2021 08:22:00 +0200
Vaccines against the coronavirus are the subject of fierce competition between
private companies, the consequences of which on the health of populations are
considerable: approval under pressure, job cuts and reduction in production
capacities ... the irrationality of the market contributes to the current
shortage. How to make vaccines a common good of humanity? ---- Pfizer and
BioNTech announced on November 9 that they had an effective vaccine. A ridiculous
shallot race ensued with Moderna regarding the effectiveness of their respective
vaccines. But what is less funny is that while this vaccine was not yet
scientifically validated, behind the scenes these companies raised the stakes
with the governments, who in turn wanted to have these vaccines approved. as soon
Thus, e-mail exchanges revealed by Le Mondeshow the pressure put by the
European Commission on the European Medicines Agency. It had in particular
pointed out the difference between the batches of vaccines used in clinical
trials and those intended for commerce. The problem seems to have been resolved
since, but this example shows that these precautions are not a matter of
"bureaucracy", but of the normal functioning of approving a new treatment.
Conversely, the United Kingdom validated the vaccine on December 2, so without
even waiting for an independent scientific opinion from Pfizer-BioNTech, or
worrying about the reservations made by the European Medicines Agency.
The government manages the shortage
Opaque negotiations followed. Vaccine prices were inadvertently revealed on
December 17, showing a large disparity between them. Embarrassment on the part of
the European Commission, which had conceded the firms the secret of the prices
charged, so that they can negotiate upwards in other countries. The European
Union was able to limit the damage by negotiating jointly until Germany alone
orders vaccines in the face of the announced shortage.
Shortage which arranges the firms and allows them to raise the prices. The
developing countries, which can not compete in this escalation, are the big
forgotten ones of this vaccination campaign.
The French government finds itself managing the consequences of this system based
only on the race for profit. He had probably bet on the Sanofi vaccine, which
unsurprisingly is a failure given the dismantling of its labs (see below). He is
now announcing a vaccination campaign for all "fragile" people and caregivers, ie
two doses to be administered to 6.4 million people. But at the other end, Pfizer
is talking about restructuring its production to be able to deliver 500,000 doses
per week in France. Even with the Moderna or even AstraZeneca vaccines as a
supplement, we can see that this will not be enough.
We could therefore discuss the inability of regional health agencies to organize
the campaign, the use of four private consulting firms, or the problems that a
"vaccination passport" would pose, but the main concern today is the shortage of
vaccines. Thus, the Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris has decided to
drastically reduce the vaccination of caregivers to redirect the stocks to those
over 75 years of age. Again, we have to make choices that we shouldn't have to make.
Requisition production lines
At the same time, the scientific council estimates in its report of January 12
that the English variant, 50% more contagious, will become dominant in March in
France. Current vaccines appear to be effective against this variant. A
successful vaccination campaign by this date could, according to him, reduce the
peak of hospitalizations by 44%, thus saving thousands of people.
Finally, it should be remembered that we do not yet know whether the vaccine
stops or attenuates contagiousness: a vaccinated person will be protected against
serious forms of the virus, but could still be contagious, like asymptomatic
people. So not sure that these vaccines will be the sesame to deconfinement.
It is therefore logical to have given priority to "fragile" people. And we must
continue to assert our rights to be protected: access to masks, teleworking if
possible, facilities to go into isolation if necessary, etc.
To put an end to this logic of profit, the consequences of which are heavy for
our health, the Libertarian Communist Union calls for the socialization of the
pharmaceutical industries. Nationalization is indeed insufficient to
completely remove this industry from the law of the market, and has been used
several times in the past to bail out companies, before re-privatizing them.
To move towards this socialization, vaccines must now become common goods of
humanity. We must put an end to business secrecy: there must be complete
transparency on negotiations and prices, scientific results and patents must be
made available. Finally, the production lines must immediately be requisitioned
to produce the vaccines. In France, this is possible via the health emergency
law: the government refuses to do so only to preserve the profits of Sanofi and
its hypothetical vaccine.
Sanofi must be socialized
On May 13, Sanofi announced that the United States would be first served as soon
as a vaccine was available. Following this, Macron announced with great fanfare
that the group would open a new factory in France, and that the state would
allocate it 200 million euros for the search for a vaccine. This amount is in
addition to the billions of euros affected by Sanofi in recent years, in
particular via the research tax credit. Ten days later, Sanofi announced the cuts
of 1,000 jobs in France, including 400 in research and development.
Remember that the dividends paid to shareholders of Sanofi in April were 4
billion euros, the price of 235 million doses of vaccine, or 200,000 jobs at
minimum wage. In its great kindness, the group has created a fund of 100 million
euros for public hospitals and nursing homes. Sanofi only knows the logic of
profit. They therefore close their research labs, an investment deemed too risky,
or else affiliate them.
As for production, it is relocated to India or China, and focuses on the most
profitable drugs. Consequence: drug shortages have multiplied by twenty in ten years.
This logic of profit is also at the origin of health scandals: Mediator,
Dépakine. How can we be surprised at the mistrust of vaccines, when the first
reason put forward to explain this mistrust is the lack of confidence in
pharmaceutical companies? It is high time to socialize this company, before all
knowledge and production on drugs is lost.
Grégoire (UCL Orléans)
Logo copyright: Photothèque Rouge / Martin Noda / Hans Lucas.
A scientific article, reviewed and validated by other independent scientists
from Pfizer and BioNTech, was not published until December 10.
"What the documents say about the anti-Covid-19 vaccines stolen from the
European Medicines Agency", Le Monde , January 16, 2021.
"Pharmaceutical industry: how we can socialize it", Alternative libertaire ,
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