• The Low Down

Pfizer, Moderna raking in $1,000 a minute

According to a recent report by Global Justice Now, eight top Pfizer and Moderna shareholders saw their stock holdings jump $10 billion last week following the discovery of the Omicron variant. This prompted one of the report’s authors to tweet, “When is a new COVID variant good news? When you are a pharma shareholder, obviously.” The report adds that Moderna, BioNTech and Pfizer collectively make $1,000 a minute in profit from the new vaccines. This is obscene. Despite repeated warnings from experts that new variants will continue to emerge unless we prioritize vaccine equity and rapidly vaccinate the world, we are no closer to achieving these goals. Pharmaceutical giants have wielded their enormous wealth to influence and pressure governments to do their bidding, helping protect their patents and profits at the expense of all of us.


While this is a big story in itself, the bigger story which should concern all those who value democracy is how after decades of neoliberalism (capitalism on steroids), corporations have become more powerful than most countries to the detriment of the planet and humanity.


The well-documented revolving door of government and corporate executives, massive industry lobbying and corporate media ownership increasingly influence policy ideas at every level of government, despite obvious conflicts of interest to the public.


The presence of 503 fossil fuel lobbyists at the recent COP26 Climate Conference, some officially registered by the Canadian government, offers one striking example.


The wholesale destruction of the planet hits a particular frenzy around this time of year and presents another example of this power dynamic. Christmas spending, corresponding with yearly increases in advertising, breaks records seemingly annually. How can the promotion of unsustainable consumption (advertising), an activity that leads to the plundering of the planet, be so open and remain so poorly regulated? Wouldn’t a sane society demand the cessation of an activity that will leave much of this planet unliveable for future generations?


It is clear that those who benefit from the status quo will do and are doing everything they can to protect their limited interests.


Expecting businesses or the media who rely heavily on advertising revenue to promote less consumption or a different way of life is a fairytale. It is the public who will need to lead the way. This holiday season is a great time to think about consuming less and sustainably as well as how we can participate and give more to our community.


Vagner Castilho

Wakefield, QC