On January 21st 2021, Biden issued an executive order to create “A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain”. In this order, he calls into action the ‘Defense Production Act’ (DPA) which allows the federal government to “to secure supplies necessary for responding to the pandemic, so that those supplies are available, and remain available, to the Federal Government and State, local, Tribal, and territorial authorities, as well as to America’s health care workers, health systems, and patients.” This is not the first time the DPA has been invoked during this pandemic as Trump previously invoked it to secure N95 face masks and ventilators. However, there’s a difference between ‘invoking’ the DPA (something akin to declaring that you’re on a war footing) and then deciding to actually use the powers it bestows upon you. Biden has not only invoked the DPA he’s set out how his administration will use it within the framework of an executive order and the question that should be on everyone’s lips right now is ‘how does this impact the ability of US company’s (Like Pfizer and Moderna) to fulfil current or future contracts with other countries?’
Incidentally, the US has yet to authorise use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and signs are it wont now be approved until April. This could place added pressure on Pfizer and Moderna but it also secures them a greater share of the US market, as well as practical and financial support from the US government in order to ramp up production and supply. Needless to say, questioning the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine as the US government has, could also impact the company’s potential global market share, as other governments who will be weighing up costs, access, transportation and storage issues, might now also, unnecessarily, be forced to consider efficacy as well.
There are currently nine COVID vaccines on the market, two from US companies ( Pfizer & Moderna), the AstraZeneca vaccine (a British-Swedish multinational company), two Russian vaccines, three Chinese vaccines and one Indian vaccine. No guesses that the US have only approved vaccines from Pfizer & Moderna (the only two US companies).
Even as early on in the pandemic as March 2020, German government sources were reporting that the US government had been manoeuvring to secure exclusive rights to a possible German COVID-19 vaccine being developed by German company CureVac (incidentally, there are currently another nine vaccines currently undergoing Phase III trials, including the CureVac offering). Then in April we learned how the US were engaging in global piracy and were busily snatching PPE from shipments destined for other countries. It’s certainly clear that the US are keen to prioritise securing vaccines and medical supplies for US citizens, while also protecting the interests of US big-Pharma and they’re prepared to thieve and even go to straight to DEFCON 1 (self-preservation mode) to achieve this. Seems to me that when Oxfam recently warned us that Covid is widening the gap between the rich and the poor, they could also have been referring to the UK. After all, we couldn’t out-manouvre the US even if we weren’t in an economic nose dive as we are at the moment.
So, as the US greedily grabs up supplies and resources, leaving the rest of the world’s governments to fight it out amongst themselves, perhaps we’re going to start seeing more unfulfilled or delayed contracts? Of course we can only speculate as to the real reasons why AstraZeneca suddenly announced it would struggle to fulfil it’s contract with the EU and could only offer them 40% of the initially agreed consignment, allegedly due to supply problems that somehow didn’t impact their UK contract. You might also wonder why something as significant as this isn’t all over the British mainstream media but you’d be hard put to find even a sentence on it. Why?
Whatever your thoughts might be on the Biden and Trump administrations, one things for sure, they are/were both prepared to fight and even to steal, to protect US citizens. What have we got? “Take it on the chin”, Bojo!
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