Research shows low taxes paid on immoral profits from COVID-19 vaccines ahead of vaccines summit

September 16, 2021: The People’s Vaccine Alliance* has lashed Moderna, BioNTech and Pfizer for cashing in thanks to taxpayer investments, monopolies, and low taxes, while leaving millions unprotected, on the eve of major global meetings on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their research reveals that Moderna, BioNTech, and Pfizer are using their monopolies of mRNA COVID vaccines to take profits of 69 per cent and more - in the case of Moderna and BioNTech — while Moderna and Pfizer are also paying little in taxes.

For context, the pre-pandemic profit rate across the entire Fortune 500 list of leading companies was 8 per cent.

The Alliance also estimates that the three corporations are over-charging, pricing vaccines by as much as US$41 billion above the estimated cost of production.

“Instead of partnering with governments and other qualified manufacturers to make sure that we have enough vaccine doses for everyone, these pharmaceutical companies prioritize their own profits by enforcing their monopolies and selling to the highest bidder. Enough is enough—we must start putting people before profits,” said Robbie Silverman, Oxfam America’s private sector engagement manager.

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have sold more than 90 percent of their vaccines to rich countries, charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production, according to analysis by the Alliance based on work by MRNA scientists at Imperial College. Analysis of production techniques for the leading mRNA type vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which were only developed thanks to public funding to the tune of $8.3 billion, suggest these vaccines could be made for as little as US$1.20 a dose.

In the first half of 2021, Moderna paid a 7 per cent US tax rate and Pfizer paid a 15 per cent tax rate, well below the US statutory rate of 21 per cent. US workers pay a higher tax rate.

In the run-up to the virtual COVID summit hosted by President Biden on September 22, activists are mobilizing across the world to demand the lifting of vaccine monopolies immediately to save lives. They have been joined by more than 140 former leaders and Nobel Prize winners including François Hollande, Helen Clarke and Gordon Brown who have written an open letter to German candidates ahead of the national election on Sept 26th calling on them to reverse German opposition to the waiving of patents and support immediate transfer of vaccine technology to manufacturers in developing countries.

*The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a coalition of more than 75 organizations united under a common aim of campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’ for COVID-19.