Last week, I wrote about how the CEO of Pfizer may have timed their vaccine announcement to maximize his profit at prescheduled stock sales.
Today I discover that it wasn’t just Pfizer, it was Moderna and Novavax as well:
Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax: executives at several American laboratories developing COVID-19 vaccines have recently pocketed millions of dollars by selling shares in their companies—raising questions about the propriety of such a move in the midst of a national health crisis.
On the very day that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced preliminary data showing its vaccine was 90 percent effective against the coronavirus, its chief executive Albert Bourla sold shares worth $5.6 million.
There was nothing illegal about this, Pfizer said: the sale took place according to rules allowing company heads to sell shares under predetermined criteria, at a date or for a price set in advance, to avoid any suspicion of insider training.
Under the same rules, several Moderna officials have sold shares worth more than $100 million in recent months.
That company has not placed a single product on the market since its creation in 2010, but the federal government has committed to paying it up to $2.5 billion if its vaccine proves effective.
Accountable US, a nonpartisan taxpayers’ advocacy group, has calculated that from the start of the federally coordinated effort to develop vaccines on May 15 until August 31, officials at five pharmaceutical companies made more than $145 million by selling shares.
Meanwhile, over at Moon of Alabama, we have an account of how Anthony Fauci, big Pharma, and the FDA conspired to f%$# Donald Trump’s reelection chances.
Personally, I’m on the side of greedy pharma execs, because of Occam’s Razor, but I am a cynic:
During the summer Trump had been hopeful that a vaccine against the Covid-19 disease could be announced before the election. It would have been proof that his strategy to (not) fight the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic had at least one success. The announcement of a vaccine was part of President Trump’s planned ‘October surprises’ to win the election.
Trump’s summer hope that a vaccine success could be announced during October was not unreasonable. Two important vaccines candidate, one from Pfizer with BioNTech and one from Moderna, had been successful tested in their first phases and were ready launch their large phase 3 trials.
In a phase 3 vaccine trial several ten thousand people are put into two groups. The people in one group receive the vaccine, the people in the other one a placebo. One then has to wait and see how many people will get the disease. At certain points a statistical team will look at those cases and check how many occurred in each group. The differences of the number of people in each group who catch the disease is a scale for the vaccines efficacy. For a known group size one can estimate in advance after how many disease cases determinations should be made to show statistical significance.
The time plan, on which Trump was certainly briefed, foresaw that the first interim analysis would likely occur in late September or early October.
However Pfizer did not publish any results when the first two interim analysis points were met. On November 9, after the election, Pfizer announced very positive results at the third interim analysis point:
As an aside, I read Moon of Alabama regularly, they regularly have top drawer commentary, particularly on the Middle East, and while they are sometimes contrarian for its own sake, Michael Kinsley disease, and it sometimes tends to be just a bit conspiratorial, they are well worth the read.