House Democrats who received the most donations from the pharmaceutical industry are declining to support a push to release the patents on COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, even as Pfizer reports soaring revenue from its vaccine.
Pfizer on Tuesday reported $3.46 billion in first-quarter vaccine sales in all but three countries. BioNTech, which which it splits vaccine costs and profit, will report the remaining revenue on May 10.
The company almost doubled its sales projections for the COVID-19 vaccine this year, from $15 billion to roughly $26 billion, citing strong demand for its vaccine.
Meanwhile, the nine House Democrats among Congress's top 25 recipients of donations from pharmaceutical industry PACs have all declined to sign on to a letter urging the Biden administration to waive intellectual property rights for the vaccine to let developing countries produce their own supply, according to the Huffington Post.
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A New Mexico resident poses for a portrait with his vaccination card after receiving his coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine last month. Calls are mounting for the Biden administration to release the patents on COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries
Workers carry the body of a COVID victim on Monday in Guwahati, India, which is asking to produce its own versions of patented vaccines and treatments
A total of 110 of the 218 House Democrats have signed the letter, which Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, plans to present to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, the outlet reported. It was not clear whether any Republicans were invited to sign on.
The letter asks Biden to heed the appeals of India, South Africa, and other developing countries and temporarily lift Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that prevent them from manufacturing patented COVID-19 vaccines or treatments.
Such a move could potentially cut into the profits of New York-based Pfizer and Massachusetts-based Moderna, but proponents say it would be a vital step to ending the pandemic and assisting hard-hit developing countries.
According to the Huffington Post, Democratic Reps. Scott Peters and Ron Kind, both on the top-25 list for pharma donations, have even asked colleagues to support an opposing letter asking Biden not to wave the intellectual property rules.
The other Democrats on the list who have not signed the letter are House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Frank Pallone of New Jersey, House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal of Massachusetts, and Reps. Anna Eshoo of California, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and