15 Aug, 2022 16:31
Albert Bourla is “experiencing very mild symptoms”
The CEO of Pfizer has tested positive for Covid-19, he revealed in a series of tweets on Monday. The drug giant’s chief executive added that he was taking his company’s antiviral, Paxlovid, slipping in some free advertising for the pricey new pill.
“We have come so far in our efforts to battle this disease that I am confident I will have a speedy recovery,” Albert Bourla tweeted, praising his employees for their efforts.
While Paxlovid was approved last month on an emergency-use basis to treat vaccinated individuals with Covid-19 symptoms, Pfizer’s own data warns its abilities in fighting the virus in vaccinated patients are negligible at best.
The Centers for Disease Control issued a warning in May about the possibility of rebound symptoms following a course of treatment with the antiviral, and several prominent Paxlovid recipients have experienced such symptoms, including US chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and President Joe Biden.
Between the sales of its mRNA-based vaccine and the new antivirals, Pfizer’s profits have reached unprecedented highs this quarter. The company reported $9.91 billion in earnings for the second quarter of 2022 and expects to sell $32 billion in vaccine doses and $22 billion in Paxlovid this year, with total revenues projected to reach as high as $102 billion.
Pfizer’s sales had already doubled in 2021, leading some to accuse the company of ‘pandemic profiteering’ by jacking up the cost of shots for wealthy countries and withholding the formula from poorer nations. Pfizer has claimed the cost of developing and testing the drug must be recouped, even though nearly half of that funding came from the German government. Oxfam last year estimated that Pfizer and Moderna were billing governments as much as $41 billion more than the vaccines cost to produce.
Pfizer’s unprecedented lobbying power, beefed up by two years of pandemic profits, has given the firm an outsize role in making public health policy. Round after round of new booster shots are announced and embraced even as health agencies argue they are not needed. Critics argue that the virus is mutating faster than new boosters can be designed, and health officials acknowledge the vaccines’ failure to block transmission renders them minimally useful in containing the epidemic.
Many public health officials have expressed concerns that health policy is being driven by the drug company. Rotavirus vaccine developer Paul Offit warned last year after Biden followed Bourla’s lead rather than the FDA’s in recommending Covid boosters to Americans that the professionals’ role was being eclipsed by Pfizer. “The pharmaceutical companies are acting like public health agencies,” he lamented.
The CDC earlier this month abandoned most of its pandemic-era advisories, belatedly acknowledging the virus has become endemic across the US. It is part of a general trend away from heavy-handed protocols like lockdowns and vaccination mandates that, despite severely disrupting individuals’ lives and upending the economy, nevertheless left over 1 million dead with the virus in the US alone.
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