As researchers around the world race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, we speak with Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program, about who is profiting from government efforts to fund vaccines, testing and treatment. The Trump administration has announced major contracts with pharmaceutical companies as part of its $6 billion program, Operation Warp Speed, including with firms that have never brought a vaccine to market. Meanwhile, a New York Times investigation shows corporate insiders from at least 11 companies working on coronavirus research have sold shares worth more than $1 billion since March. “The problem is that the companies, the executives, the hedge funds are feeding on people’s hope and desperation, and it only takes a little bit of positive news to send stocks soaring,” says Maybarduk. Public Citizen recently released a database that tracks the billions of taxpayer dollars supporting COVID-19 research.
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