As I suggested last evening, licensing deals are being done to increase production of the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines.
Sanofi will provide access to a production facility in Frankfurt, which will start to deliver millions of doses of BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine by the summer in an unusual collaboration to speed vaccination efforts.
In a statement Wednesday, Sanofi said the deal will produce more than 125 million doses of the messenger RNA vaccine for the European Union. This is exactly the right thing to happen and will truly help the EU’s vaccine efforts.
Sanofi’s own Covid-19 vaccine has faltered in development and won’t be ready by summer as initially expected. The deal with BioNTech allows Europe to make up for some of the loss.
I am hopeful that this agreement will encourage more pharmaceutical companies around the globe to provide manufacturing and distribution muscle to the few coronavirus vaccines that have proven effective.
On a much less optimistic note, a federal watchdog has found that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has been used for the past 10 years as a “slush fund” to cover expenses unrelated to its core mission of fighting health threats like Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19.
BARDA came to public attention last year when the Trump administration fired its director, Rick Bright, who seemed to fancy himself as a whistle blower. It is clear now that for the past eight years that included the past two presidential administrations and Mr. Bight’s tenure at BARDA, funds earmarked for biodefense were misused. The practice of diverting funds was so common, investigators found, that employees had a name for it: the “Bank of BARDA.”
The 223-page report, issued Wednesday by the Office of Special Counsel, found that the Department of Health and Human Services diverted millions of taxpayer dollars intended for vaccine research and pandemic preparedness into other government activities, and failed to inform Congress in violation of federal law.
Maybe that is why there were no PPE supplies or other resources in the national stockpile when the pandemic started.