Pfizer, Moderna… The pharmaceutical trusts must be expropriated

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 2, 2021

According to the Financial Times, the price of the Pfizer vaccine is set to go up from 15.50€ to 19.50€ and the Moderna vaccine from 19€ to 21.50€. The British daily was able to access the contract signed by the pharmaceutical companies with the European Union. Given the number of doses sold, the companies are going to make billions more in extra profit.

Both these pharmaceutical companies have just announced that they’ve made record-breaking profits but they are now using the surge in contaminations due to the Delta variant to inflict an increase in prices – an opportunity they certainly won’t pass up. The patent-based system allows a minority of big pharmaceutical companies to freely set their prices and, as a result, the poorest countries are deprived of access to the vaccines.

In terms of scientific progress, vaccination is an advancement for humanity but in this capitalist society it’s first and foremost a means of making a minority of stockholders – who don’t give a damn about the general interests of the population or their health – even richer.

Biden, Macron and other world leaders have been making hypocritical speeches about how the vaccine must be made into “a common good for humanity”, but as obedient defenders of the capitalists’ interests, they carefully avoid questioning the capitalists’ right to benefit personally and financially from the work of all those who have contributed to the discovery and fabrication of vaccines. However, these same leaders have no qualms about introducing more bans or obligations on the people, threatening them with penalties and punishment if they don’t comply. Macron has done just that with the new health laws he intends to enforce starting August 9.

As of this date, people will have to show a health pass to enter a hospital or an old-age home, to take the train or go to a restaurant – and workers in many sectors will also have to provide proof of vaccination. Healthcare workers will have to get vaccinated and if they don’t, starting September 15, their work contract will be suspended and they’ll no longer get paid unless they take vacation days. The Labor Minister made it clear that employers will be able to lay off workers. Macron is using mandatory vaccination as a pretext to pass anti-worker legislation which reinforces the arbitrary power of the bosses.

The announcements made by the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, are just as shocking. When pupils go back to school this fall, those who aren’t vaccinated could be “evicted” from their classroom. In the meantime, the minister still refuses to allot the necessary funds and resources to allow all pupils to study in good and safe conditions in terms of their health. He even plans to cut 1,800 teaching positions in September.

These measures are going to make life much more difficult for a lot of people, especially for workers. But Macron couldn’t care less! As a trustworthy representative of the ruling class, he is using the same authoritarian methods that bosses use in companies every day.

To justify himself, he says it’s urgent to act against the fourth wave of the epidemic. That’s pretty cynical because a fourth wave was to be expected and for over a year nothing has been done to increase staff or resources in hospitals, retirement homes and in healthcare in general.

So, yes, there are many reasons to be angry with Macron and his Prime Minister Castex. They keep lecturing us while the government has shown nothing but negligence since the beginning of the epidemic. The only thing it has been worried about is how to help businesses, especially major companies, maintain their profits.

Like his predecessors, Macron fulfills the demands of the big bosses and bankers, the privileged few whose business interests come before everything else. All of society is paying for the disastrous consequences of the domination of the ruling capitalist class, which is completely irresponsible and only ever worried about getting richer and richer.

Demonstrations against Macron’s health laws have continued throughout France. Protesting against these measures is legitimate. Not in the name of individual freedoms but rather to affirm that, for the good of all, it’s necessary to expropriate the big pharmaceutical trusts – without purchasing them or compensating the bosses – and to put them under the workers’ control. Public health is too important to be left in the hands of profit-seeking exploiters.