In defense of pandemic profits
The price of a COVID-19 shot will soon go up. The federal public health emergency ended this month, and the government will stop providing COVID vaccines to all Americans free of charge.
Moderna and Pfizer have both signaled that they plan to raise the prices of their shots once the vaccines move to the commercial market. And that’s prompted outrage from some of the drug companies’ typical foes. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders castigated Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel at a recent hearing for his company’s “profiteering” and “unprecedented level of corporate greed.”
But this ire is misplaced. The COVID vaccines have delivered value to society many times greater than the profits their makers have claimed. Further, drug development is a risky business. Most potential treatments don’t pan out. The possibility of a blockbuster keeps investors funding biomedical research — and keeps America’s world-leading innovation ecosystem thriving.
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