News & Politics

World Fundraising Effort for Coronavirus Vaccine a Bust

In this Tuesday, May 15, 2018, photo, embryologist Brad Wilson is seen in a glass reflection while placing a sperm sample onto a counting chamber as he prepares the sample for insemination in a lab at Melbourne IVF in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

An EU-led fundraising event to raise money for a coronavirus vaccine and treatment research claimed victory yesterday as they say they achieved their goal of raising $8 billion from governments around the world.

Both the U.S. and Russia declined to participate, however, and questions were raised about how much money was actually raised.

The United States is already well on its way to starting human trials in an ambitious program to develop a vaccine first.


Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE (22UAy.F) said on Tuesday they have begun delivering doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccines for initial human testing in the United States.

The U.S. drugmaker and German partner said if the vaccine proves to be safe and effective in trials, it could potentially be ready for wide U.S. distribution by the end of the year, shaving several years off the typical vaccine development timeline.

Reason enough for the U.S. to politely decline to participate in a fundraising effort that would make us beholden to other nations for our vaccine supply.

The fundraising event was actually a crashing failure.


And the precise location of the event’s metaphorical finish-line was less of a question than the overall approach to counting the biggest pledges. At a briefing last week, senior Commission officials announced that they had decided that national government expenditures going back to January would qualify toward the overall goal.

Then, during Monday’s event, officials seemed to also start counting loan guarantees and potentially other financing that would generally not meet the traditional definition of a “donation” for medical research.

The EU’s own €1.4 billion “pledge” included a “reprioritization” of €600 million already budgeted from the Horizon 2020 research program; €80 million from existing disaster management funds; and €400 million in loan guarantees.

The worst pandemic in a century and this is the best the rest of the world can do? Individual nations are actually in a race to find a vaccine, with much-maligned U.S. Big Pharma companies in the lead. At least in the West. China has been hard at work on a vaccine, too, and it’s unknown when — or if — they would share it.

It’s not just the U.S. that’s far along in vaccine development. The German company BioNTech has partnered with Phizer for the vaccine trials and, if it’s effective, could have 20 million doses by year’s end. Other EU labs are hard at work in developing possible treatments.

Pfizer said last week it hopes to receive emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as early as October, and could distribute up to 20 million doses by the end of 2020, with an eye toward producing hundreds of millions of doses next year.

“Even going from a few million to 20 million will allow you to protect the epicenters of the virus, and then drive out the virus from our society as we ramp up to hundreds of millions,” Pfizer research chief Mikael Dolsten told Reuters in an interview.

Using synthetic mRNA technology can enable the vaccine to be developed and manufactured more quickly than traditional vaccines, the companies said.

The bottom line is that the world doesn’t need show-and-tell bogus fundraising circuses. As always, the rest of the world is looking to the United States to solve its problems.

And the taxpayer will foot the bill.

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