Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Workers pack syringes at a factory in India.

Workers pack syringes at a factory in Faridabad, India. (Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images)

Debunking Pharma Lies, Experts Identify 100+ Firms Ready to Make mRNA Vaccines

"There is no dearth of able companies in low and middle-income countries to manufacture mRNA vaccines. It's time now for Big Pharma to stop using this as a lame excuse and start sharing the tech."

Jake Johnson

Public health experts on Wednesday unveiled a report spotlighting more than 100 firms in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that have the potential to produce mRNA vaccines for Covid-19, putting the lie to the Big Pharma narrative that developing countries lack manufacturing capacity to make the lifesaving shots.

"People are dying for corporate profit—it's that simple."

Compiled by the AccessIBSA project and the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign, the list includes 120 companies from India, South Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Senegal, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Bangladesh, Thailand, and other countries—an indication that there is significant untapped potential to expand global vaccine supply to reach the billions of people who have been denied access.

Crucially, however, the firms are missing vaccine technology and intellectual property specific to the mRNA shots produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have refused to distribute their recipes to the world. The U.S. and German governments have thus far declined to force the pharmaceutical giants' to share their tech, even though taxpayers provided substantial funding for the development of the mRNA vaccines.

"There are over 100 companies across Africa, Asia, and Latin America who have the capacity to make an mRNA vaccine," Achal Prabhala of the AccessIBSA project said in a statement Tuesday. "These companies can bridge the yawning inequity in mRNA vaccine supply in poor countries. All they need is for the U.S. and German governments to end monopolies and share the valuable technology they funded and essentially created with them."

Shailly Gupta, communications adviser for MSF's Access Campaign, said the list "clearly illustrates that there is no dearth of able companies in low and middle-income countries to manufacture mRNA vaccines."

"It's time now for Big Pharma to stop using this as a lame excuse and start sharing the tech," Gupta added.

Map of qualified manufacturers

All of the firms on the newly published list manufacture sterile injectables and have been certified for good manufacturing practices, ensuring that they adhere to high international quality standards.

Vaccine equity campaigners argued that the identification of qualified manufacturers in developing countries debunks Pfizer's claim that "only a few facilities in the world are able to perform the critical steps needed to manufacture mRNA vaccines and the inputs to produce those vaccines at a large scale."

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's billionaire CEO, similarly insisted in a call with analysts earlier this year that "there is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world."

"This is a new technology, you cannot go hire people who know how to make mRNA—those people don't exist," Bancel said.

Pfizer and Moderna—both based in the U.S.—have voiced opposition to a proposed patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines and dismissed calls to take part in technology transfer efforts facilitated by the World Health Organization, actions that campaigners say are artificially limiting global vaccine supply and prolonging the deadly pandemic.

Germany, home to Pfizer's partner BioNTech, is among the leading opponents of the proposed intellectual property waiver, which has remained stuck in World Trade Organization negotiations for more than a year.

In a letter sent Wednesday, MSF and Human Rights Watch urged the Biden administration—which has expressed support for a patent waiver—to take action to ensure that the manufacturing firms identified on the new list "have timely access to intellectual property, vaccine technology, and materials needed to support manufacturing."

"The U.S. government's failure to ensure more widespread technology transfers," the letter argues, "seriously undermines global efforts to meet human rights obligations regarding international cooperation, right to health, and sharing the benefits of scientific research."

"Leaving pharmaceutical companies to decide where and how vaccines should be manufactured, to whom they should be made available, and at what price and other terms is an abdication of the U.S. government's human rights and global health commitments and leadership," the groups conclude.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·

Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Looming US Supreme Court Climate Decision Could 'Doom' Hope for Livable Future

"The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases," said one scientist. "The broader issue is the ability of federal agencies to regulate anything at all."

Jessica Corbett ·

Supreme Court Takes 'Wrecking Ball' to Separation of Church and State With Prayer Ruling

After decades of affirming that prayers led by school officials are unconstitutional, said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, "the court now charts a different path."

Julia Conley ·

Louisiana Judge Blocks State's Post-Roe Abortion Ban

"Abortion care will resume in the state and a hearing has been set for July 8th," said the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo