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Daily review 16/03/2021

Written By: - Date published: 5:30 pm, March 16th, 2021 - 34 comments
Categories: Daily review - Tags:

Daily review is also your post.

This provides Standardistas the opportunity to review events of the day.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Don’t forget to be kind to each other …

34 comments on “Daily review 16/03/2021 ”

  1. arkie 1

    Pfizer execs say there's a 'significant opportunity' to hike prices of its COVID vaccine

    • Pfizer execs told investors there was a “significant opportunity” to hike the price of its vaccine.
    • They said to cope with emerging COVID variants, people may need a third dose of the vaccine.
    • Regular yearly “booster jabs” against COVID may also become routine.

    Speaking at the virtual Barclays Global Healthcare Conference last week, two high-ranking Pfizer employees – CFO Frank D’Amelio and Chuck Triano, senior VP of investor relations – said there would be a chance for Pfizer to raise prices for the vaccine when COVID moves from a pandemic state to an endemic situation and the virus circulates continually in pockets around the globe.

    “If you look at how current demand and current pricing is being driven, it’s clearly not being driven by what I’ll call normal market conditions or normal market forces… it’s been driven by the pandemic state we’ve been in, and the needs of governments to secure doses from various vaccine suppliers,” said D’Amelio.

    He added that with the resumption of “normal market conditions” over time, there would then be a chance for the company to take advantage of opportunities from “a demand…and pricing perspective.”


    Sickening. Capitalists will capitalism, I guess.

    • AB 1.1

      Yeah – but there's an important argument behind all this that 'the left' needs to counter: if there wasn't the promise of vast profits, would Pfizer have put in the effort to produce what looks like a pretty effective vaccine with a novel mechanism of action (mRNA), in record quick time? It is one of the few good arguments for allowing markets to function in a reasonably unrestrained fashion.

      • arkie 1.1.1

        Vaccines aren’t generally profitable business. Public funds contribute significantly to the research. And when the researchers seek to provide those patent-free, caring billionaire philanthropists can convince them to back-track for the profits. But at what cost?

        Oxford University surprised and pleased advocates of overhauling the vaccine business in April by promising to donate the rights to its promising coronavirus vaccine to any drugmaker.

        The idea was to provide medicines preventing or treating COVID-19 at a low cost or free of charge, the British university said. That made sense to people seeking change. The coronavirus was raging. Many agreed that traditional vaccine development, characterized by long lead times, manufacturing monopolies and weak investment, was broken.

        “We actually thought they were going to do that,” James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit that works to expand access to medical technology, said of Oxford’s pledge. “Why wouldn’t people agree to let everyone have access to the best vaccines possible?”

        A few weeks later, Oxford—urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices—with the less-publicized potential for Oxford to eventually make millions from the deal and win plenty of prestige.


      • arkie 1.1.2

        As far as public funding for other vaccines:

        Moderna now has received almost $1 billion in taxpayer funds to help develop a vaccine that is tied to the work of federal scientists, and the stock market reactions signal that investors think they'll reap a lot of the reward if the vaccine is proven to work.


        BioNTech is credited for contributing the messenger RNA technology, which prompts the body to make a key protein from the virus, creating an immune response. The biotechnology company already had a history of working with Pfizer on influenza vaccines, and in March they clinched a deal to co-develop a shot to prevent against Covid-19 at research sites both in the U.S. and Germany. The two companies began human testing of the vaccine in April, before the existence of Operation Warp Speed was revealed publicly.

        Berlin gave the German company $445 million in an agreement in September to help accelerate the vaccine by building out manufacturing and development capacity in its home market.


      • arkie 1.1.3

        Finally, Kropotkin wrote about invention in The Conquest of Bread, which I think makes a good argument. Some excerpts:

        “There is not even a thought, or an invention, which is not common property, born of the past and the present. Thousands of inventors, known and unknown, who have died in poverty, have co-operated in the invention of each of these machines which embody the genius of man.

        “Science and industry, knowledge and application, discovery and practical realization leading to new discoveries, cunning of brain and of hand, toil of mind and muscle — all work together. Each discovery, each advance, each increase in the sum of human riches, owes its being to the physical and mental travail of the past and the present.

        “By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of this immense whole and say — This is mine, not yours? … Thought being incapable of being patented, patents are a crying injustice in theory, and in practice they result in one of the great obstacles to the rapid development of invention.”


        • RedLogix

          The problem is not with the idea. Ideas are without limit and virtually free – anyone can have them.

          The challenge is turning the idea into something useful, and when it comes to vaccines as an example, it costs billions to develop, trial, approve, manufacture and build the distribution networks. It's all highly complex, tightly regulated and expensive operations undertaken by highly skilled researchers, technicians and operators.

          None of it happens for free.

          • arkie

            None of it happens for free.

            A large part is publicly funded (see 1.1.1 & 1.1.2 above). The point you’re missing is those researchers, technicians and operators were educated in public schools, used publicly funded transportation and communication networks, regulated by public institutions and governed by publicly elected politicians, etc etc. We are bouyed along on the cresting wave of history, by the momentum of every preceding human who laboured to shape the world. We have always achieved the most by co-operating, and for tens of thousands of years it did happen ‘for free’.

            • RedLogix

              The point you’re missing is those researchers, technicians and operators were educated in public schools, used publicly funded transportation and communication networks, regulated by public institutions and governed by publicly elected politicians, etc etc.

              I'm very well aware of this – it's essentially called social infrastructure. It's one of the most important ways the public sector contributes towards the economy.

              But to argue this means the private sector should somehow do everything for free simply does not follow. These two aspects of our economic life, the public and the private co-exist in symbiosis with each other, each complementing the others strengths. It's not an either/or binary choice.

              • Incognito

                But to argue this means the private sector should somehow do everything for free simply does not follow.

                Strawman’s argument; nobody said that.

                AstraZeneca has promised not to profit from its Covid-19 vaccine but that promise is starting to come under a cloud …

                The temptation might be too strong.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                But to argue this means the private sector should somehow do everything for free simply does not follow.

                If not "for free", then how about 'at cost'. Is "for profit" a necessary characteristic of private sector enterprises and, if so, might the profit motive be responsible for some 'unfortunate' outcomes?

                Nursing homes owned by private equity have higher death rates
                Between 2004 and 2016 there were 20,150 excess deaths in American nursing homes, amounting to an estimated 160,000 lost years of life. The cause wasn’t a pandemic, but private equity.

                The Financialization of Social Services: Implications for Planning Cities that Value Care Over Profit
                This qualitative study is supplemented with a quantitative evaluation of COVID-19 death rates, finding that financialized long-term care homes fared worse than municipal, non-profit, and other for-profit homes. The paper concludes by outlining several strategies to limit the influence of financialized care providers and empower alternative ownership models.

                $894M deal ends most of Pfizer’s lawsuits

                • RedLogix

                  Look I'm as cynical as the anyone here around the motives and practices of Big Pharma – but I'm not an ideological fool about it.

                  The reason why profit exists is not reward for effort – as most working people imagine. It's reward for risk.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Look I'm as cynical as the anyone here around the motives and practices of Big Pharma – but I'm not an ideological fool about it.

                    RL, I never suggested that you were.

                    The reason why profit exists is not reward for effort – as most working people imagine. It’s reward for risk.

                    That’s an intriguing PoV; unfortunately the pernicious influence of the profit motive sometimes smears the ‘risk‘ beyond those seeking rewards, wouldn’t you agree.

                    Anyway, I used the wrong example; Pfizers's 'unfortunate' outcomes were nothing compared to Merck's.

                    Vioxx Lawsuits

                    Following Merck’s voluntary market withdrawal of its second biggest money maker, the arthritis painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), Merck faced mounting lawsuits involving claims of civil liability as well as charges of potential criminal wrongdoing.

                    Bob Ernst, a marathon runner and fitness fanatic, started taking Vioxx (rofecoxib) in November of 2000 for pain in his hands. Less than eight months later, the 59-year-old Texas man died in his sleep of a heart arrhythmia.

                    Ernst’s widow, Carol, was bereft and confused about her husband’s sudden death. The more she looked into it, the more she suspected the culprit was Vioxx, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that had been heavily advertised for its easy-on-the-stomach pain relief.

                    Carol Ernst became the first of tens of thousands of consumers who sued Merck over allegations that the company had concealed information about the serious health risks of the popular arthritis drug — including the risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes — to protect sales.

                    Cardiovascular Risks Suspected for Years

                  • Incognito

                    The reason why profit exists is not reward for effort – as most working people imagine. It’s reward for risk.

                    Spoken as a true shareholder, not as a wage-worker.

            • McFlock

              The other point is that there is a range of affordability between "free" and "with the resumption of “normal market conditions” over time, there would then be a chance for the company to take advantage of opportunities from “a demand…and pricing perspective.” ".

              The former might be unrealistic in today's world, but we know that the latter means people will die preventable deaths because they couldn't afford life-saving interventions in "normal market conditions". We know this, because it already happens every day.

              • RedLogix

                I'm clearly not defending grossly predatory pricing. Any big pharma would have to think very hard around reputational damage before playing that game.

                But the point everyone misses is that while it looks greedy when they do make big money of a product – what we don't see is the risk they took with all the products they spent big money on and didn't get to market.

          • Incognito

            Drugs giant Pfizer has said it expects $15bn (£11bn) of sales this year of the coronavirus vaccine it developed with German firm BioNTech.


            Indeed, drug/vaccine development is expensive but not as expensive as you seem to think. The necessary infrastructure, including manufacturing plants and distribution networks, are already in place. Advertising & Marketing has been tainted as a higher costing than the actual R & D.

  2. Muttonbird 2

    In a retaliatory political move this week Scumo intimated that it was New Zealand holding up a trans-Tasman bubble. Looks like he was telling lies again. Well, he is Australian so it comes naturally.

    One thing caught my attention:

    Australia's current exit visa restriction that prevents Australians travelling to New Zealand without a visa.

    If only this was in place before the Australian white supremacist came here to murder 51 NZ muslims. I think we need these visa conditions permanently.


  3. Muttonbird 3

    This is interesting. It's info ripped from another forum. It's about Scumo again:

    While a large protest gathered outside parliament yesterday condemning the treatment of women at large after the recent revelations involving Brittany Higgins and Christian Porter specifically, the PM addressed the Speaker in the House and suggested those protesters were lucky to be where they were because they’d be shot elsewhere.

    Here is the quote;

    "This is a vibrant liberal democracy, Mr Speaker, not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker."

    So in Scumo's Australia women are lucky they are not shot at when protesting. This seems to be a major dragging down of the country by its own PM to be compared with other, unnamed and mysterious countries with lesser human rights.

    What a bizzarre political strategy. Something John Key might have done.

    I will try to find official links to this…

  4. Incognito 4

    She [National’s housing spokesperson Nicola Willis] said that there was some anecdotal evidence of large-scale accommodation projects being harder to fund after the foreign-buyers ban.

    “When I talk to people who used to be involved in the construction of large-scale apartments in Auckland they’ve told me that the foreign capital ban has made it much harder to get that style of accommodation going,”

    The number of apartments consented nationally hasn't changed greatly since the foreign buyers ban was legislated in 2018, according to data from Stats NZ, which monitors monthly consents.


    Another example of how anecdata are rolled out and wielded to suit a narrative.

    • Muttonbird 4.1

      Do we want investment monies coming from regimes which persecute muslim minorities?

      Even if to ‘solve a housing crisis’. Throwing bad money after bad if you ask me.

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        I didn’t know those regimes that you’re speaking of invest in build-to-rent developments in NZ. In that case, Minister Woods might be calling for answers about possible Government links to human rights abuse just as Minister Robertson is doing as we speak.


        I can only hope the Ministers don’t have to wait long for answers from their own teams because New Zealanders are definitely being put on hold, without the elevator music.


        • Muttonbird

          The human rights issue Grant Robertson want answers to is about a NZ links to a company in China which spies on Uyghur Muslims.

          I'd say that any money and goods out of China is tainted in the same way because it is all the product of a dictatorship and oppressive regime.

          Why do we insist on assuming clean trade when it suits us and call dirty trade when it suits us?

          • Incognito

            I'd say that any money and goods out of China is tainted in the same way because it is all the product of a dictatorship and oppressive regime.

            Is “tainted” the threshold signal to start an economic boycott or sanctions?

            I wonder if it is only money and goods out of China that are tainted? That’s a rhetorical question so please don’t answer it.

            Why do we insist on assuming clean trade when it suits us and call dirty trade when it suits us?

            Of course, we justify things to ourselves and to others as necessary and more strongly when there’s more at stake. That said, nothing in international politics and trade is black (AKA dirty) and white (AKA clean). Minister Robertson seems to be well aware of and understand this.


            • Muttonbird

              I wonder if it is only money and goods out of China that are tainted? That’s a rhetorical question so please don’t answer it.

              I'll not take the bait, thanks. You are projecting something upon me which simply isn't there. Not happy about your multiple inferences (“please don’t answer”, “Black=dirty”, White=clean”) but you are in a position of power and I am not yet so I will suck it up.

              It’s a bit like how the Chinese government works, eh?

              • Incognito

                Thanks for not answering my rhetorical question. If I’d wanted to bait you and set a trap, which is what you seem to be insinuating, I don’t think I’d made it as abundantly clear as I did.

                It is quite clear what you think of Chinese money and goods (and services, presumably). That’s enough for me. How you distinguish that from Chinese people is moot to me.

                You know what B & W means. You called it “dirty” [trade] and “clean” [trade]. Same thing. No inference.

                Oh dear, now you’re saying that I’ll abuse my position of power to oppress you and act like a dictatorship. That’s quite a bold statement but because you’re talking out of your arse I will suck it up. Just agree to disagree when you run out of arguments instead of manufacturing such utter nonsense; as long as you stay with this site’s rules you should be fine and DR is like OM, i.e. the most free & open post on TS.

                • Muttonbird

                  Cool beans. Warning taken, sir.

                  Edit. Although you are still insinuating I equate Chinese citizens to their government, money, and production of goods.

                  Many Chinese immigrants might very well disagree with their former government’s politics. Not sure how many, though.

                • Muttonbird

                  Further to that I find, in the current circumstance, any money and goods coming out of China to be similar to that coming out of Apartheid South Africa, or occupational Israel.

                  And citizens the same. While they might disagree with China's policy they have still benefitted financially from it.

  5. KSaysHi 5

    Speaking of housing

    "The influx of homeless into motels along Rotorua's main strip of Fenton St – nicknamed “MSD Mile” by locals – has led to a rise in crime and social disorder in the previously tranquil suburb of Glenholme."

    10 Million in the last year was spent in Rotorua just to house people. We must be at the point of exponential growth in Accommodation related spending.

    • Muttonbird 5.1

      I knew Fenton Street as Rotovegas. The Americanisation of New Zealand means Rotorua and Las Vegas will always move closer and closer together.

      This is a capitalist, profit driven problem.

      • Sabine 5.1.1

        not sure why anyone would call Fenton Street as Vegas, there is no gambling, no strip clubs etc, there are a few motels/hotels/cafe/fishnchips/clothing store. Its pretty boring, unless fighting breaks out, and that is what is happening more and more often.

        And frankly in regards to run away houseprices and supply the Government – blue and red – can be happy it had the motel industry to house their throw away citizens into and forget. Without these motels these homeless people, and children would be living in a ditch in full sight.

        So the hiding the problem away in a motel is a governmental as any labour or national government can be.

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