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Got My Shot – Boy, was that fast!

got my shot

Got my shot on Sunday. Get yours. A bit of a sore arm, nothing much. Thanks Tony and Dolly for your investment.

Boy, was that fast. Barely a year after the pandemic started, I got my shot. We drove down to Okotoks Costco on Sunday for an 11:00 a.m. appointment at the pharmacy. By 11:30, we were on our way home.

And yes, I am joking in the picture above: it was not a Kirkland vaccine! Just Moderna, the real “Fauci Ouchy”. I thought it might be useful to review just how we got a vaccine this fast: 12 months.

Simply put, collaboration between government and private sector to share risks and get results is an unbeatable long-standing model for creating public good, if done right. It starts with basic research. Governments over the past decades have invested over $100 billion dollars in the basic research that drug companies leveraged to develop their Coronavirus vaccines.

On the development side, COVID-19 urgency led governments in all advanced economies to invest in actual vaccine development, including clinical trials and regulator streamlining. Finally, as for production, governments made huge advance purchases of unproven vaccines. We enabled building and rapid scale-up of manufacturing just-in-case the vaccine actually worked. We call this risk sharing, and it works.

Public-private risk sharing is nothing new. In 2009 when swine flu emerged as a pandemic, wealthier governments already had provisional contracts with vaccine makers which they exercised immediately. This included US, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Britain.

Got My Shot – Warp Speed, Whatever

As part of the culture wars, we are being told to give Donald Trump credit for the vaccines. Sigh. Well, we should at least give him credit for not screwing it up.

Generally, global investments in COVID-19 vaccines were roughly evenly divided between North America, Asia and Europe. Lots of investment. Of course, China and Russia invested in their state-owned vaccines. United Kingdom invested in developing Oxford AstraZeneca. Germany invested in developing Pfizer-BioNTech. United States invested in developing J&J and Moderna.

CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – with government support from UK, Canada, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands – invested to accelerate testing and build specialized production plants. In the US, BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) supported development and scale-up manufacturing and has done so since 2006.

I could go on, but you get the point. Lots of credit all around for modern government investments in vaccines everywhere.

Interestingly, the partnership between NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Tony Fauci) and Moderna – from which I got my shot – began in November 2015, a year before  a Trump presidency and five years before Operation Warp Speed was even conceived. And if we are handing out kudos, thanks to Dolly Parton for her million dollar investment in Moderna clinical trials.

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