In the first study to systematically examine the public investments in mRNA vaccines, researchers have found that the U.S. government was substantially invested in COVID-19 decades before the pandemic.
Published in the British Medical Journal on March 3, the study found that the government invested $31.9 billion in mRNA vaccines and technologies between 1985 and 2022, of which at least $337 million was invested pre-pandemic.
The government also paid $31.6 billion during the pandemic for vaccine research, production, and vaccines for all Americans, as well as for global donations.
The vast pool of funding has netted Moderna and Pfizer over $100 billion in revenue from sales of COVID-19 vaccines since their launch, an amount 20 times greater than the total budget of the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2020-21.
Altogether, the researchers identified 34 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants that were directly related to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
They also identified contracts issued by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Department of Defense.
“[This is] the largest public investment for a disease ever,” Hussain Lalani, a fellow at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study said.