Beneath a Covid Vaccine Debacle, 30 Years of Government Culpability

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At first, it appeared that the agency had attracted two large pharmaceutical firms — Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline — but their involvement proved temporary. The companies already had contracts with the agency to work on vaccines for influenza pandemics. It was a distinct corner of biodefense that attracted major manufacturers because they could use much of the same technology and equipment for their seasonal flu shots.

In 2012, BARDA incorporated Novartis’s flu vaccine plant in North Carolina into the new program, and GlaxoSmithKline agreed to work as a subcontractor to another winning bidder, Texas A&M University.

Within a few years, however, both pharmaceutical firms bowed out. Novartis decided to get out of the flu vaccine business, and GlaxoSmithKline stopped participating in the program with Texas A&M. The university soldiered on, and in 2020, the government enlisted it to…

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