25 November 2020 — Michael Roberts
Before the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the world, the big pharmaceutical companies did little investment in vaccines for global diseases and viruses. It was just not profitable. Of the 18 largest US pharmaceutical companies, 15 had totally abandoned the field. Heart medicines, addictive tranquilizers and treatments for male impotence were profit leaders, not defences against hospital infections, emergent diseases and traditional tropical killers. A universal vaccine for influenza—that is to say, a vaccine that targets the immutable parts of the virus’s surface proteins—has been a possibility for decades, but never deemed profitable enough to be a priority. So, every year, we get vaccines that are only 50% efficient.