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Activists take part in a March 11, 2021 protest at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America industry lobby group. (Photo: Michael Galant/Twitter)

Volunteer Quits Moderna Vaccine Trial Over 'Ruthless Corporate Profit-Making'

"Science for outrageous profit that costs people their lives is not noble. That is why I can no longer in good conscience be part of Moderna's trials."

Brett Wilkins

A volunteer for Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine trials made waves Tuesday when he publicly quit being a "human guinea pig" due to what he called Big Pharma's "ruthless corporate profit-making."

"We allowed Moderna to test its experimental vaccine and booster on us in order to help end this pandemic, not to make more pharma billionaires."

"In July 2020, I volunteered to be in Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine trial," Jeremy Menchik, an associate professor at Boston University's Pardee School of Global Studies, wrote for STAT. "If I knew then what I know now about the company's quest for profits, I wouldn't have done that."

Menchik explained that he volunteered for the trial because he "believed that helping Moderna develop a vaccine to help get the world out of the pandemic was worth it."

"Though the risks in agreeing to allow an experimental vaccine to be put into my body were obvious, the potential benefits seemed much more alluring," he wrote. "As a father, I was concerned about the world my two kids—ages one and five—were inheriting."

"When the trial ended and I learned of the vaccine's success, I was ecstatic that I had played a small role in furthering science that could help save lives," Menchik wrote. "I even agreed to enroll in another trial for Moderna's booster that specifically targeted the Delta variant. I felt then that being a test subject was a valuable way to contribute to public health during the Covid-19 pandemic."

He continued:

That initial feeling has receded in recent months as I have come to understand that the noble enterprise of science-making I had imagined I was a part of is actually, first and foremost, an exercise in ruthless corporate profit-making. Instead of going all-out to end the pandemic as quickly as possible, Moderna is helping prolong it by not making its mRNA technology available to the U.S. government or other manufacturers so global production can be scaled up quickly—and thereby maximizing its profits.

Menchik notes that Moderna reaped as much as $18 billion in 2021 revenue, and that by some estimates, the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing vaccines are raking in $65,000 every minute.

"The irony," he wrote, "is that this science should not have been a selfish exercise: The U.S. government provided roughly $2.5 billion to Moderna for development and purchase of vaccines."

"That investment should have ensured that humanity's future is not decided by companies that have already made billions," he added.

"While the process of science and the products it yields are noble, science for outrageous profit that costs people their lives is not noble," Menchik wrote. "That is why I can no longer in good conscience be part of Moderna's trials, and I urge other Moderna trial participants to resign as well."

"We allowed Moderna to test its experimental vaccine and booster on us in order to help end this pandemic," he added, "not to make more pharma billionaires."


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