Science Held Hostage: How Pharma is Using mRNA Vaccine Contracts With Government to Delay Future Innovation

Clinical trials that are crucial to future pandemic prevention and current responses to SARS CoV-2 are being delayed by pharmaceutical companies. These companies are able to use government contracts specifying when, where and how current vaccines owned by goverments can be used to delay and defer access to these vaccines for research. Current SARS CoV-2 vaccines are a vital part of research for next-generation products such as nasal vaccines and pan-coronavirus vaccines. Next generation candidates need to be tested in animals who have been vaccinated with presently available vaccines to evaluated safety and effectiveness in the context of prior immunization. However, for over two years, the terms of government contracts with industry have had the inadvertent effect of delaying sometimes effectively blocking access to these products for research purposes.

Over the course of a six-month research effort, PrEP4All spoke with US government agencies, research groups, private philanthropy and industry to better understand the causes and consequences of this challenge. The crux of the issue is language in government procurement contracts for vaccines that specifies where and how the vaccine owned by the government can be
used. This language does not in any way restrict companies from collaborating with researchers, for example by supplying doses of the vaccine held by the company, according to government sources interviewed for this report. The contractual language in question, drafted in the context of a global health crisis, has had unforeseen consequences in terms of slowing studies and adding costs and logistical burdens to research activities.

This is an eminently solvable issue that must be addressed now—before new crisis.

Read the full report here.