In a statement from the Oval Office on Friday, President Biden said that he and White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci have discussed yet another increase in vaccine booster shoots, this time from every 8 months to every 5 months.
Several large pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNTech, have sought FDA approval for booster shots in their two-dose vaccine, stating there is data showing improvement in a person’s resistance to the Covid-19 virus with a third shot. They aren’t alone, either. Johnson & Johnson states that their one-dose vaccine is also made more effective by an additional shot.
This change in timing seems to contradict the administration’s earlier guidance. Jeff Zients, President Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said on Tuesday, “We expect the rule will be simple. Get your booster shot eight months after you got your second shot.”
Not surprisingly, one of the main advocates for a booster shot from Pfizer has been… Pfizer. On Wednesday, the company stated that a third dose could “strongly” boost resistance to the Delta variant of the disease, which has been surging in infections despite efforts to vaccinate and protect against it. Pfizer estimated that the booster could increase resistant antibody levels in the body by as much as five times in people aged 18 to 55, versus two doses.
However, these findings have not been published in a scientific journal or peer reviewed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62.8 percent of US adults have been fully vaccinated, and 73.5 percent have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Pfizer has profited greatly from the sale of its Covid-19 vaccine, to the tune of $11.3 billion in the first half of 2021 alone, according to Open Secrets, published by the Center for Responsive Politics. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Pfizer stated that the US government spending accounted for “12% and 14% of total revenues for the three and six month” periods in 2021.
These increases were seen even before the emergency use authorization was received from the Food and Drug Administration for the Pfizer vaccine. Revenues in all Pfizer’s vaccine programs in the first half of 2020 was $2.9 billion, compared to $14.1 billion (for all vaccine programs) in the first half of 2021.
(This has prompted accusations from former President Donald Trump that Pfizer is out for money, not medicine: “I saw the dollar signs in their eyes.”)
Some of this money is spent on still more lobbying efforts, and Open Secrets noted Pfizer spent $13.2 million on such lobbying in 2020. That is the most the company has spent on lobbying since the fierce debate over the Affordable Care Act (often nicknamed “Obamacare”) in 2009.
Now that Pfizer has received full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine, including authorization for a third dose for immunocompromised people, with additional approval expected as soon as Labor Day 2021, Pfizer can reasonably expect to see still further increases to its ballooning profits.
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