You know those “greedy” drug manufacturers you’ve been hearing so much about lately? They’re pouring time, money and resources into finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Yes, the company or companies that successfully develop a vaccine will likely profit from the effort. Indeed, as we write the stock prices of three companies rushing to create a coronavirus vaccine—Moderna Inc., Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Novavax Inc.—are all up.
But unlike the socialist and progressive mentality that is sweeping the Democratic Party, we think that profit motive is a feature, not a bug.
For-profit companies are often able to move quickly when necessary, and finding a solution to the coronavirus epidemic is one of those times.
The companies may reach out to government agencies, such as the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for intelligence sharing, coordination and expertise, but it’s private sector companies that are leading the charge.
Just imagine what would happen if the government were tasked with developing new medicines, as some people are proposing. Congress might have to approve the unanticipated and unbudgeted additional spending. But Congress is tied up in an impeachment knot right now. Very little is getting done.
In addition, the epidemic is mostly in China, although it is spreading to the U.S. and other countries. Some politicians might refuse to support taxpayer-funded efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine, claiming that China hasn’t been that friendly lately and doesn’t deserve our help.
Private sector companies don’t have to worry about the politics of developing a vaccine that might save thousands of lives—even if they aren’t American lives.
The Wall Street Journal reports the companies could have a vaccine ready for testing in a few months, though receiving government approval could take longer. In other words, if there’s a roadblock and people die as a result, it likely won’t be the companies’ fault.
And one more thing, the companies appear to be taking different approaches to developing a vaccine. Thus it’s possible that all of them could receive patents and FDA approval for their products, forcing them to compete both on price and efficacy.
That’s an important point since drug company critics seem to think that patents eliminate competition.
We don’t know if the companies will succeed in finding an effective vaccine, but they’re trying. What we do know is that without private sector companies that can jump into the search immediately, a vaccine would likely be slow in coming, or not at all.