COVID lockdowns are killing the economy. A third of small businesses in New York and New Jersey are done. Not shuttered. Not taking a break. Closed for good.
Drive through any shopping center near you, and you will see the wreckage produced by the misguided and draconian actions of Governors and bureaucrats gone mad with the power usurped by them under the pretense of saving us from COVID-19. Local bars, local restaurants, small businesses of every description have been obliterated.
But, not everybody is going to come out of this pandemic in financial trouble. Big Pharma, in particular, has never had it so good.
Months ago, the federal government announced Operation War Speed. In the interest of fielding a workable vaccine for COVID-19 in record time, Washington did something unprecedented. It commissioned multiple efforts, run by multiple companies, running in parallel at the same time. All of these efforts had exactly the same goal, the development of a vaccine that would prove effective.
All told the federal government allocated $9 billion to develop and manufacture candidate vaccines. More than $2.5 billion more was earmarked for vials to store the vaccines, syringes to deliver them, and efforts to ramp up manufacturing capacity.
All the usual suspects showed up at the trough. Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, Sanofi, GSK — virtually every big biotech firm in the world wanted in on this action.
But, $9 billion is chicken feed compared to what is coming. Researchers disagree slightly on exactly what percentage of a population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve what is known as herd immunity, but generally, the estimate is at least 50%-70% of the population will need protection. That’s not 50%-70% of the population of the United States. That’s 50%-70% of the population of the planet.
There are 7.8 billion people on the planet.
And, for most of them, getting the vaccine may be – effectively – mandatory. Even inside the United States, while the federal government may not mandate vaccines, state and local governments, private employers, and school systems almost certainly will. You may not be technically legally required by Washington to be vaccinated, but that may prove a distinction without a difference.
“There’s a long history in our constitution that permits the state to act for public health and safety, and that has always included vaccination,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “Once fully approved by the FDA, a vaccine may eventually be required for children in public and private schools and daycare settings, for college and university students, and for some health care workers and patients.”
The planning underway for Operation Warp Speed provides perhaps the best clue as to the scope of what is about to come. Moncef Slaoui, the chief science advisor for the project has stated that the plan is to have enough doses of the vaccine on hand by June 2021 to inoculate the entire population of the United States. Planning also calls for everyone on the planet to be vaccinated by mid-2022. Each of the six pharmaceutical companies in the project who have actual production ability is expected to be able to manufacture anywhere between 500 million and 1 billion doses by the end of 2021.
“Hopefully by the middle of the year, I hope most Americans will have been immunized, which means the level of hesitancy that exists currently will have been decreased because people will have learned more information … about the vaccine,” Slaoui, told The Washington Post in a live stream interview.
So how much money are we talking about?
Evercore ISI is a financial analysis firm. Their senior analyst Josh Schimmer predicts the firms involved with Operation War Speed will ultimately pull in, on top of what they have already been paid, $100 billion. One company, Moderna, according to Schimmer is likely to see 40% of that.
Discussing the coming windfall, Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma – Greed, Lies and the Poisoning of America” had this to say. “Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity…The global crisis will potentially be a blockbuster for the industry in terms of sales and profits…The worse the pandemic gets, the higher their eventual profit.”
Maybe the logic behind the severity of many of the lockdown provisions has escaped you to date. Maybe you have wondered why our government and the powerbrokers in our nation seem so determined to inflict so much pain on the population. Perhaps now you know.
A population pushed to the brink by lockdowns will grasp at almost anything for relief. A vaccine, even one produced at a breakneck pace and with perhaps uncertain future side effects, may seem preferable to continuing to live in isolation and despair. The average person, desperate for relief, may simply push aside doubts and misgivings and agree to be inoculated.
One thing is certain. Pandemics are bad for small business, but Big Pharma is going to make a killing.