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Public Citizen Analysis: $25 Billion Investment Can Vaccinate the World

U.S. Government Funding Would Ramp Up Vaccine Production, Shorten the Global Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new Public Citizen analysis finds that a $25 billion investment in COVID-19 vaccine production by the U.S. government would produce enough vaccine for developing countries, potentially shaving years from the global pandemic. Public Citizen estimates that producing eight billion doses of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-Moderna vaccine can be done for just over $3 per dose.

Public Citizen calls on Congress to swiftly approve the urgently needed funds and for President Joe Biden to instruct his administration to quickly implement a scaled-up, worldwide vaccine manufacturing program. The analysis comes the day before the G7 summit where Biden will speak about the need for a global response to the pandemic and recommit the U.S. to multilateral engagement.

“The U.S. can help lead the world out of the pandemic if our government acts now,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “A $25 billion investment could support the manufacturing of vaccines for more than half the world’s people, in time to spare them years of needless suffering.”

A $25.2 billion investment would fund retrofitting and building manufacturing facilities around the world ($1.9 billion for 25 production lines, according to a paper by Imperial College engineers), materials and labor ($19.8 billion), and technical assistance and compensation for technology transfer ($3.5 billion). This would allow the U.S. government to leverage the considerable investment the U.S. public already has made in COVID-19 vaccines, including the ownership rights the U.S. government has in the NIH-Moderna vaccine. It would also ensure fair compensation to vaccine makers.

Public Citizen contends Biden should designate the government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to lead the worldwide vaccine manufacturing effort.  BARDA has the necessary experience to manage an initiative of this scale and can build on the pandemic flu vaccine program it launched in 2006 to help developing countries build influenza vaccine manufacturing capacity.

“In shortening the pandemic, this proposal would pay for itself many times over,” Maybarduk added. “It would save hundreds of thousands of lives. It would shorten the period of mitigation measures which are costing trillions in lost economic output. It would make it possible to produce booster shots and reduce the risk of new, vaccine-resistant variants emerging and traveling to the U.S.”

Experts and activists, including PrEP4All and Public Citizen, today also sent a letter to members of the Biden Administration calling for the federal government to increase global availability and supply of the mRNA vaccine.

In December Public Citizen issued a report that lays out three actions President-elect Biden can take—mobilize, share, build—to quickly supply the world with a coronavirus vaccine. Public Citizen is part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, which calls for COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine technology to be made available to all as a global public good.

Read Public Citizen’s analysis here.