On November 16, 2021, Russia Today reported that Covid-19 vaccines bring $1000 every second to Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna companies from wealthy nations, while low-income nations remain unvaccinated. This information is mostly true.
The news material focuses on the issue of vaccine distribution. It cites a report by the African Alliance and People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa. They claim that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna earn $1000 per second, $65.000 per minute, $93.5 million a day by selling their vaccines to rich nations. However, Pfizer and BioNTech have delivered less than 1% of their supply, and Moderna just 0.2% to low-income countries. 98% of people there remain unvaccinated. Despite this, Germany, the UK and other high-income countries do not want to suspend intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines.
We decided to check if: (1) the pharma trio actually makes $1000 per second or $93.5 million per day, and (2) just two percent of people in low income countries have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, as the African Alliance and People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa declared.
Also we contacted RT, via email, to request their comment on the news story, and provide an explanation of why the story did not include the position of Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna on the issue, in addition to explaining why there’s no mention for the news story author, but we did not receive a response.
We analyzed sales reports from Pfizer. Reports on the sales of the Pfizer vaccine, or rather the proceeds received, are on the official website of the company. The calculation was made for the third quarter of 2021. Pfizer – Comirnaty direct sales and alliance revenues – 12 977 000 000 $ : 7 948 800 seconds = 1632 $/second PFIZER REPORTS THIRD-QUARTER 2021 RESULTS
We analyzed sales reports from Biontech. Sales reports are on the official biontech website.
Financial results for the III quarter of 2021: In addition, during the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021, respectively, €312.3 million and €514.3 million earned from BioNTech’s collaboration partners of products manufactured by BioNTech as well as €1,350.8 million and €2,586.2 million direct from COVID-19 vaccine sales to customers in BioNTech’s territory.
1 350 800 000 € : 7 948 800 seconds = 170 €/second (or 197 $/second)
We analyzed sales reports from Moderna. Sales reports are on the official Moderna website.
Product sales for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021 were $4.8 billion.
4 800 000 000 $ : 7 948 800 seconds = 603 $/second
Result for all three companies combined: 1632 + 197 + 603 =2432 $/second
The conclusion: the amount stated in the article (Pfizer, BioNTech & Moderna receive $ 1,000 every second from the Covid-19 vaccine) is true. Our calculations were based on revenues from July 1 to September 30, 2021. So, we calculated the revenues for 92 days or 7 948 800 seconds.
The second claim: just two percent of people in low income countries have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, as the African Alliance and People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa declared. We chose low-income countries according to the World Bank data. Average number of fully vaccinated people against COVID-19 by the 16th of November (it’s the date of publication of the article) around 4,7% .
The proof of these words is the official data from the submitted source.The real number of vaccinated people in low-income countries is around 4-5%, which is slightly higher than the percent indicated in the article.
Also we found the information about African Alliance, when and why the Alliance established, who is leading the Alliance and the role of Maaza Seyoum, mentioned in the article. The Alliance was founded as a queer-led non-profit organization in 2013, the Alliance work has evolved from a consulting agency in to a full service non-profit organization with partnerships and networks around the world. The Alliance current portfolio includes work on COVID – 19 research, advocacy and mobilization. Tian Johnson is the founder and lead strategist of the African Alliance for HIV Prevention, a member and convener of the Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group and a member of the Strategic Advisory Group for the Coalition to Accelerate and Support Prevention Research (CASPR).
Maaza Seyoum is partnerships and communications lead of the African Alliance and heads The People’s Vaccine in Africa, a growing movement of health and humanitarian organisations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders, and economists urging that when safe and effective vaccines are developed, they are produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge.
We tried to get in touch with the African Alliance and the head of Partnerships and Communications of the African Alliance (Maaza Seyoum) to find out what method they used to calculate the money of companies producing vaccines against coronavirus. The African Alliance did not respond on Twitter to our request, and Maaza Seyoum on Twitter asked for an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) request to the Alliance. The answer has not been received.
The news material singles out only the UK and Germany among countries that have refused “to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights regarding Covid-19 vaccines,” and Japan, Switzerland, Australia and Brazil were not mentioned. What is the reason for this selectivity? Moreover, there was a statement from European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen about the readiness to discuss the issue.
Also we analyzed comments after the article. Some of the commentators are sure that Pfizer (as well as every other pharmacology company) is a part of a ‘medical collusion’. This people think that medical workers created virus to make money on vaccinating people. These thoughts are widespread along the comment section on RT.com.
However, some people are sure that income of the pharma companies is a good thing because now these companies can invest more money on the further research. Smallest part of the commentators are neutral. They realize that due to pandemic pharma companies are making more money and these people see no ‘conspiracy’ in this.
The rate between positive and negative commentaries is 80 to 20. Most of the commentators are frustrated about either amount of money pharmacology companies made during pandemic or about ‘vaccination propaganda’ as they call it. Some commentators also claimed that they are not vaccinated (and not going to be) because they do not trust the pharma companies and/or the government.
The main facts of the news material are true. These NGOs and the report exist. The profit figures are correct. Germany and the UK have blocked the transfer of intellectual property rights to poor countries. However, some manipulations give significant reasons to claim it as mostly true. The original report includes the comment from the CEO of Pfizer but RT decided to omit it. The news material has no author. The real number of unvaccinated people in low-income countries is around 4-5%. We have sent information requests to Russia Today and People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa, but have not yet received any response from them.
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RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Cross-national fact check by South Ural State University (Chelyabinsk, Russia) and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland)