Faced with breaks in vaccine production chains and disorders, similar to those that Europe is experiencing, that they create in vaccination campaigns, Joe Biden has decided to take out the heavy artillery. Impossible, in the current state of things, to hope to achieve the objective which he gave himself: 100 million Americans vaccinated during the first 100 days of his presidency.
As soon as he took office, the new tenant of the White House published an ambitious and proactive plan of several hundred pages that could perhaps contribute to a break in the fight against Covid-19 . An “aggressive vaccination strategy” promises the one who, with Donald Trump’s pre-orders, inherits a pharaonic stock of serums … largely virtual! Enough to allow him to realize that it is not useful to buy more, at this stage, but much more to ensure the concrete manufacture, if necessary, by a very supported public intervention …
No questioning of the patent system
Unlike the Europeans who, despite posturing – for example, when the French government asks Sanofi, without exerting pressure, to examine the conditions under which it could help in the manufacture of competing vaccines (read L’Humanité of January 15 ) -, do not intervene in the field of intellectual property or in that of industrial planning, Biden is determined to face the bankruptcy of vaccine production, left in the hands of Big Pharma. However, he does not question the patent system at all either, even if his administration promises a return to international cooperation, notably via the World Health Organization (WHO), to defeat the pandemic in France. global scale.
Admittedly, the new American president does not exclude, in his program, to use methods of sorcerer’s apprentices to artificially multiply the available doses: after the United Kingdom has postponed until three months – instead of three or four weeks – the deadline for the second injection of the vaccines, after Pfizer unscrupulously justified the decline in its distribution in Europe by now counting 6 doses, against the 5 planned, the United States, under the leadership of the administration Democrat, plans to halve the doses injected. This would allow them, as if by magic, to be able to “vaccinate” twice as many people … This idea, mentioned in Biden’s program, was immediately rejected by the regulatory authority, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who finds it “premature and not solidly supported by available evidence”.
But in a context of serious shortages, it is in terms of industrial production of vaccines, but also masks, tests and all the necessary materials, that Biden intends to act quickly and strongly by activating the Defense Production Act (DPA ). Created in 1950 for military imperatives during the Korean War and since extended to health needs, this legal framework allows the authorities to force manufacturers to focus on priorities of general interest. While, for example, lipid nanoparticles, essential for encapsulating messenger RNA in vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and, tomorrow, CureVac or others, are not being manufactured in sufficient quantities today, the he US administration intends to mobilize federal agencies and the entire private sector to increase production or, at the very least, direct it towards strategic companies in its eyes. The United States has identified shortages for a dozen raw materials or other commodities, such as high-precision syringes to extract vaccine doses from vials, and they plan to scoop up whatever they can globally, by ensuring their own production in their country. Even more strikingly, Biden promises to send public officials to factories to “control” and “support the operations” of production.
And meanwhile, the European Union, which is already suffering from the priority given to the United States by Moderna for its first deliveries (read Humanity of December 11, 2020) risks watching the trains go by. A little less than the less wealthy countries, literally deprived of access to available serums, but still! In this context, rather than confronting the question of global production, Europeans go hunting for vaccines. The latest example with Hungary which, due to delays in the delivery of joint orders made by the Commission, has unilaterally authorized the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, of which it has ordered two million doses.