Pharmaceutical corporations like Moderna and Pfizer are making $1,000 profit every second or $60,000 every minute (N33 million) or nearly N2 billion a day just from their monopoly control of the COVID-19 vaccine. They are also charging governments up to 24 times more than the potential cost of generic production.
This was revealed in a new Oxfam report titled, “Profiting from Pain” just published as the World Economic Forum — the exclusive get-together of the global elite in Davos — takes place for the first time face-to-face since COVID-19. Incidentally 87 percent of people in low-income countries have still not been fully vaccinated.
Pfizer’s overall revenues in 2021 doubled to $81.3bn, and it expects to make record revenues of $98bn to $102bn this year. The drugmaker made a net profit of nearly $22bn last year, up from $9.1bn in 2020. It increased its 2022 estimate for Comirnaty sales to $32bn and expects Paxlovid to contribute $22bn in revenues.
Pharmaceutical companies have been accused of not sharing the recipe for their vaccines, which would enable drugmakers in poorer countries to produce cheaper versions of them. But the pharmaceutical giants are not the only ones reaping huge profits from the global food and health situation.
Corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors — where monopolies are especially common — are also posting record-high profits. Five of the largest energy companies (BP, Shell, Total Energies, Exxon and Chevron) are together making $2,600 profit every second or $156,000 every hour.
Billionaires in the food and energy sectors are increasing their fortunes by $1 billion every two days. According to OXFAM, for a new billionaire was created every 30 hours last year, while nearly a million people were being pushed into extreme poverty in 2022 at nearly the same rate.
“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes. The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.
How public relations can help
Companies use PR to tell their own versions of the stories and attempt to create better understanding with their publics. Here are some PR tactics oil and pharmaceutical companies can use to their rescue:
- Divert public attention and debate about money and profits and drive more news conversations and news coverages around the danger of diseases.
- Highlight the massive investments they have made in research over the years, and repeatedly play up the risk factor.
- Blow louder trumpets around their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and community development initiatives. The louder the trumpet, the better they look, especially if their community programs are truly transformational.
- Partner with credible influencers and third parties and take control of the narrative.
- Continue to change the conversations from profits to saving lives, using social media and highly influential journalists and commentators.