U.S. will hoard hundreds of millions of vaccines, causing concern

The out-of-control of the new crown pneumonia epidemic has brought India into the focus of global attention. Recently, under the pressure of public opinion, the US government finally let go, saying that it will share about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries. The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the United States, and Americans may not need to receive this vaccine, so the United States is undoubtedly “hoarding” the vaccine. In addition, according to a report released this month by Duke University in the United States, by the end of July this year, the United States will receive 300 million doses or more of over-purchased vaccines. In other words, when there are almost no vaccines available in some countries, 300 million doses are lying in warehouses in the United States. It is not just “hoarding” that hinders the global fight against the epidemic. Since the two administrations of the United States insisted on “America First”, from the ban on the export of vaccine raw materials to the priority processing of US government orders by American companies with factories or foundries around the world, in many people’s eyes, it was Washington’s selfishness that exacerbated it. The plight of India and other countries during the epidemic.

“In addition to short-term demand, we will have hundreds of millions of doses left”

Among at least 8 new crown vaccines that have been vaccinated on a large scale worldwide, the vaccines led by US companies include Pfizer, Modena and Johnson & Johnson. The recombinant protein vaccine developed by Novavax is also expected to be available next month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves emergency use. These companies are almost all participants in the “swift action” that began during the Trump administration.

Stanley Perlman, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, told the Global Times reporter on the 27th that the current ability of the United States to produce vaccines several times the actual demand is largely due to government initiatives. The “speed action”. In May 2020, in order to accelerate scientific research related to the new crown vaccine, the Trump administration proposed a “speed action” with a budget of more than 10 billion U.S. dollars. For the companies participating in the operation, obtaining funding from the US government means that they need to promise to give priority to the supply of vaccines produced in the United States in the future.

The Global Health Innovation Center of Duke University tracked global vaccine contracts and found that in January this year, the United States had snapped up about 2.6 billion doses of vaccines, accounting for about a quarter of the global total, which is the demand for the US population of 330 million (based on two doses per person) Nearly 4 times. According to the latest report of the research institution on the 15th of this month, it is estimated that by the end of July, the United States will receive 300 million doses of over-purchased vaccines from five manufacturers. Udayakumar, one of the authors of the report, said, “Assuming we reserve one or two doses of vaccine for every adult and even children over 12 years old, we will have hundreds of millions of doses left in addition to short-term needs.”

In the vaccine industry chain, the United States itself is one of the most important production bases. According to statistics from the London-based Airfinity data analysis company (Airfinity), as of March this year, the United States has produced about 164 million doses of the new crown vaccine, and almost no exports. In comparison, India exports about 55 million doses and the EU exports 46 million doses. A “Global Times” reporter learned on April 27 that China’s global supply of vaccines has exceeded 100 million doses.

A domestic immunologist told the Global Times reporter that American vaccine companies have factories or foundries around the world, which to some extent squeeze out the country’s vaccine production capacity and resources. “At the moment when technical personnel, production lines, and raw materials are limited. To produce one more dose of vaccine for the United States means that one less dose is produced for the country.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States shows that, so far, more than 297 million doses of the new crown vaccine (232 million doses) have been distributed across the United States, which does not count the tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that are on hold in US warehouses.

Using raw materials and patents to “stuck the neck” of developing countries

Some analysts believe that relying on its own production capacity and overbought strategy, the “vaccine nationalism” of the United States is making other countries pay. The problem is that the impact of the United States does not end there, because it is also the main provider of raw materials and patents for the new crown vaccine.

Zhuang Shilihe, a medical worker who has been following the new crown vaccine for a long time, told the Global Times reporter that India, currently in the quagmire of the epidemic, has the world’s largest supplier of vaccine production, but it relies heavily on the supply of reagents, equipment, and raw materials. United States. Especially for mRNA technology, the United States almost has the absolute ability to “stuck the neck”.

Pfizer and Modena’s two new crown vaccines are the first batch of vaccines approved in the world. The mRNA technology they use requires a lipid nanoparticle material made of liposomes. Before the outbreak, there were only a few factories producing liposomes, and their output was not high. Most of these factories were located in Massachusetts, Missouri, Colorado and Alabama in the United States.

Not only liposomes, but glass bottles, plastic packaging bags, needles and other “little things” that contain vaccines have also become factors restricting the expansion of foreign vaccine factories’ production capacity, because both US governments have used the National Defense Production Act. Restrict exports.

After checking the federal contract database and other materials, the US “Caesars Health News” stated that Washington has invoked the “Defense Production Act” in a large number of vaccine-related contracts, including the agreement signed with Pfizer in December last year to supply an additional 100 million doses of vaccines. . Companies can first obtain raw materials, etc., but they must first process orders from the United States.

This has caused foreign producers to complain repeatedly. On the 16th of this month, Punawala, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, shouted to Biden on social media, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the United States, “Request the United States to lift the export ban on raw materials.” And this is not the first time he has expressed dissatisfaction.

Compared with the issue of raw materials, vaccine patents owned by US companies can be described as a gap that is extremely difficult for developing countries to bridge. On the 10th of last month, the United States and other countries blocked South Africa and India’s proposals for exemption from intellectual property obligations related to the new crown pneumonia vaccine and drugs. Since October last year, the WTO has held relevant meetings eight times, but due to opposition from European and American countries, it has not been able to reach an agreement. On the 30th of this month, WTO members will continue to meet and discuss.

US media: Many senior officials oppose sharing, insisting that vaccine stocks are sufficient

The independent media London News and Investigation Bureau (TBIJ) published a shocking investigation in February this year: Due to Pfizer’s negotiation skills, the time it took to reach a vaccine agreement with a country was affected.

Delayed for several months, and completely unable to reach an agreement with the other two countries-Argentina and Brazil. “Everyone we interviewed mentioned that this company is the least suitable for cooperation and the most bullish company.” According to the survey, Latin American countries are required to take out Federal Bank reserves, embassy buildings or military bases as guarantees to cover Future legal costs arising from “unlikely adverse effects”.

For Washington, this arrogance is nothing. Previously, the White House had repeatedly refused to provide vaccines produced in the United States to partners and allies such as Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. Not long ago, White House Press Secretary Psaki was asked if Biden was considering sharing the U.S. vaccine stockpile with neighboring countries, and he simply replied: “No.”

At present, after more than 200 million doses of vaccines have been administered, the rate of vaccination in the United States has slowed down. Supply in many states exceeds demand, and vaccines are idle every day. However, the phenomenon of panic buying and over-purchasing vaccines in the United States is still very serious. Some scholars interviewed by a reporter from the Global Times said that this approach, which runs counter to global cooperation in the fight against the epidemic, shows indifference and selfishness.

Ironically, the American media, which is good at digging the “back story”, turned a blind eye. Since Biden will be on stage for 100 days, CNN published a boastful report on the 26th, stating that the Biden administration has made urgent and “wartime” efforts at this time to keep the United States from One of the countries with the worst response to the epidemic has become the “world leader in vaccination”.

At present, the United States’ promise to share 60 million doses of vaccines is still verbal, and it is this promise that has caused a lot of quarrels within the United States government. The US Political News Network disclosed on the 27th that the latest decision to share vaccines was “sudden”, leading to the “split” of senior officials in the Biden administration. Many people insisted that sufficient vaccine stocks must be maintained. More than a month before, senior officials of the White House and the National Security Council had repeatedly rejected requests from the heads of the health department, the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to export vaccines. “They asked the president to continue to wait and see until more vaccine manufacturers were authorized. The United States has gone further with its own vaccination.”