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US to endorse waiving Covid vaccine patents. Pfizer, Moderna shares hit

Written By | May 5, 2021
Covid vaccine patents, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson

Moderna office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Image via Wikipedia entry on Moderna. CC 4.0 International license.

WASHINGTON – Breaking news reports Wednesday afternoon revealed that the current administration in Washington has endorsed waiving the Covid vaccine patents – i.e., intellectual property — currently held by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).

Also read: Maskerade party finally over in the US? Wall Street yawns, stocks droop

US-based Covid vaccine patents tossed down the drain Wednesday

ZeroHedge offers a bit more color on today’s surprise White House news.

“In a major rebuke to the west’s biggest vaccine makers (including Pfizer, Moderna and J&J), President Joe Biden has decided to break with the Bill Gates-backed status quo and support a WTO initiative to make COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property open to all.

“US stocks pulled back on the news, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the selloff, as support for the WTO waiver proposal sponsored by India and South Africa would likely help accelerate the pace of vaccinations across the developing world.

“Moderna and Pfizer were hit particularly hard since the success of the waiver would likely severely devalue their COVID vaccine business, which Pfizer said just yesterday will likely be a “durable revenue stream” as COVID vaccines likely become an annual dose like the flu vaccine.

US drug companies’ shares, NASDAQ take a tumble

Pfizer, Moderna and J&J shares took a hit when the administration’s announced waiver of the companies’ Covid vaccine patents hit the news wires. Markets, and particularly pharma stocks, took a brief hit as well. Pfizer and J&J shares were the least affected. They largely bounced back as of 5 minutes before today’s closing bell. Moderna, however, a smaller company lacking the product depth of a Pfizer or a J&J, is currently off $11 per share for a nearly 7% loss on the day.Check out the ZH chart below, which illustrates the carnage.

Covid vaccine patents, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson

Moderna shares take a big hit as current US administration erases intellectual property protection for its new and highly-effective Covid vaccine.

ZH also manages to get in a dig at Bill Gates, who was experiencing a rather bad week of his own already.

“Before announcing his divorce [from Melinda Gates, his wife of 27 years], Bill Gates recently doubled down on his opposition to the IP waiver proposal, insisting (seemingly without evidence) that poorer countries would be better off waiting to buy jabs from Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and others instead of rushing to make their own under an “open vaccine”-style paradigm.

“It’s just the latest blow against Gates, the world’s de facto COVID vaccine czar, in what is shaping up to be a rough week for the billionaire.”

Partisan politics often produce unintended and negative consequences

Gates and his arguably high-handed pushing of vaccine solutions he backed amounts to another story, of course. For that matter, so does Pfizer’s obvious withholding last November of the provisional FDA approval of its own vaccine. They declined to reveal that news until after Election 2020 voting concluded last fall, lest it aid the Trump Presidential Campaign. Both stories illustrate the peril of getting overly partisan when it comes crucial public health and safety matters in our current, overheated political climate. Pfizer, in particular, might have had a more sympathetic ear on this issue in a second Trump Administration. So it goes.


Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17