Check out this NY Times article published today. The US government is buying much more vaccine than is needed for every American. But it also has signed contracts restricting the overseas sale of some of its purchases. So if it can’t be sold, why is the government committed to buying so much? Is the plan to give everyone frequent boosters? The contracts are extremely secret.
Multibillion-dollar contracts give drug makers liability shields, patent ownership and leeway on delivery dates and pricing — and promises that much of it will not be made public.
When members of the European Parliament sat down this month to read the first publicly available contract for purchasing coronavirus vaccines, they noticed something missing. Actually, a lot missing.
The price per dose? Redacted. The rollout schedule? Redacted. The amount of money being paid up front? Redacted.
And that contract, between the German pharmaceutical company CureVac and the European Union, is considered one of the world’s most transparent.
Governments have poured billions of dollars into helping drug companies develop vaccines and are spending billions more to buy doses. But the details of those deals largely remain secret, with governments and public health organizations acquiescing to drug company demands for secrecy.
Just weeks into the vaccination campaign, that secrecy is already making accountability difficult. The drug companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca recently announced that they would miss their European delivery targets, as dangerous virus variants spread. But the terms of their contracts remain closely guarded secrets, making it difficult to question company or government officials about either blame or recourse.
Available documents, however suggest that drug companies demanded, and received, flexible delivery schedules, patent protection and immunity from liability if anything goes wrong. In some instances, countries are prohibited from donating or reselling doses, a ban that could hamper efforts to get vaccines to poor countries.
Governments are cutting at least three types of vaccine deals: Some are buying directly from pharmaceutical companies. Others are buying through regional bodies like the European Union or the African Union. Many will turn to the nonprofit Covax program, an alliance of more than 190 countries, which is buying from the drug makers with an eye toward making vaccines available worldwide, especially to poor countries free or at reduced cost. Some governments have signed deals with manufacturers and Covax alike.
The United States has secured 400 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, enough for 200 million people, and 200 million additional doses by summer, with options to buy up to 500 million more. It also has advance purchase agreements for more than 1 billion doses from four other companies whose inoculations do not yet have U.S. regulatory approval.
The European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch negotiating on behalf of its 27 member states, has nearly 2.3 billion doses under contract and is negotiating for about 300 million more, according and Airfinity, a science analytics company…
In the United States, drug companies if their vaccines don’t work or cause serious side effects. The government covered Covid-19 drug makers under the PREP Act, a 2005 law intended to speed up access to medicine during health emergencies.
That means that people cannot sue the companies, even in cases of negligence or recklessness. The only exceptions are cases of proven, “willful misconduct.”
Drug companies are seeking similar liability waivers in negotiations with other countries… The CureVac-E.U. contract does shield the company from significant liability, but with exceptions. Those exceptions are redacted…