Moderna, Racing for Profits, keeps Covid vaccine out of reach of the poor

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Moderna’s market value has nearly tripled this year to over $ 120 billion. Two of its founders, as well as an early investor, were on Forbes magazine’s list of America’s 400 richest people this month.

As the coronavirus spread in early 2020, Moderna rushed to design its vaccine – which uses a new technology known as messenger RNA – and to schedule a safety study. To manufacture the doses for this trial, the company received $ 900,000 from the nonprofit Coalition for Outbreak Preparedness Innovations.

The nonprofit group said Moderna had accepted its “fair access principles.” This meant, according to the coalition, that the vaccine would be “first available to populations when and where they are needed and at affordable prices for populations at risk, particularly low- and middle-income countries or entities in the sector. public who procure on their behalf.

Moderna agreed in May to provide up to 34 million doses of the vaccine this year, plus up to 466 million doses in 2022, to Covax, the struggling United Nations-backed program to immunize the world’s poor. The company has yet to ship any of those doses, according to a spokesperson for Covax, although Covax has distributed tens of millions of doses of Moderna donated by the United States.

Mr Bancel said many more doses would have been sent to Covax this year had the two sides reached a supply agreement in 2020. Aurélia Nguyen, a Covax official, denied this, saying: “It has become clear from the start that the best we could expect were minimum doses in 2021.

At the end of last year, the Tunisian government was hoping to order doses of Moderna. Dr Hechmi Louzir, who led the vaccine procurement efforts in Tunisia, was unsure of how to contact Moderna to start talks and sought help from the US Embassy in Tunisia, he said. he declares. Officials contacted Moderna, he said, but nothing came of it.

“We were very interested in Moderna,” said Dr Louzir. “We tried.”

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