ICYMI // AIC President & CEO Drew Maloney Discusses Private Capital’s Critical Role in Developing COVID-19 Vaccines
Recently, Real Clear Markets published an op-ed from American Investment Council President & CEO Drew Maloney discussing how private capital played a critical role in the development and distribution of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. Mr. Maloney also discussed his ongoing participation in the Phase I/II trial for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Read the full op-ed below:
Millions Enlisted in the Fight to Eradicate COVID-19
Real Clear Markets
By Drew Maloney
January 6, 2021
The COVID vaccine being administered to people around the world represents one of the most groundbreaking logistical feats in human history.
The world has just embarked on the biggest mass immunization campaign since the eradication of polio began in the 1950s. Just last week, people started receiving doses of a vaccine we hope spells the end of COVID-19, less than a year after the world discovered this deadly virus. The groundbreaking accomplishment is a testament to the interdependence of the global economy and the constant investments in that supply chain with public health.
The work started with scientists in labs around the world who studied this novel coronavirus to probe for a weakness. In the months since, doctors, nurses, scientists, regulators, shipping companies, airlines and a robust supply chain have been enlisted to develop this vaccine, affirm its safety and effectiveness and deliver it to the people who are now receiving it.
Over the summer, I got an up-close view of this massive global collaboration when I volunteered for an early phase of the trial to test the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. I had never participated in a drug or vaccine trial, but I recognized the urgency of this one because an effective vaccine is the only way to slow this virus on a mass scale and rejuvenate economies upended by the pandemic.
Pfizer began the screening process in May, and I was approved to enter the trial as a member of the healthy 18- to 55-year-old cohort. The process was incredibly thorough. I had regular direct interactions with the medical staff conducting the trial. I was given my first dose of the vaccine in early July. I loaded an app onto my phone to report any symptoms that arose over the next seven days as patient 87 in the Pfizer-BioNTech Phase I/II trial.
Other than a sore arm, I never developed a fever or any of the other minor side effects occasionally attributed to the vaccine from the first shot. I traveled to the University of Maryland Vaccine Center weekly to provide blood samples so the researchers would monitor the vaccine’s impact on my immune system. After 20 days, I received my booster and gave more blood in order to monitor my immune response. Over the next seven days, I regularly chronicled symptoms that arose. I felt minor aches and some fatigue in those first hours but was otherwise fine. Throughout, the process was rigorous, well-organized and safe.
Over the next two years, the trial team will continue to monitor my immune system to study my antibody and T cell responses. Because those of us in Phase I/II of the trial received the vaccine several months before the large Phase III trial, or those in the general population now receiving the vaccine, our small group will be key to determining how long the vaccine confers immunity and whether we need another booster at some point down the line.
Tens of thousands of people around the world have participated in these ongoing vaccine trials, and now hundreds of thousands of people are working hard to manufacture, distribute and administer those vaccines authorized by health regulators in countries around the world. Eventually, millions of people will be involved in the final stages of the delivery process, including airline employees, the global delivery giants FedEx and UPS and, most importantly, the doctors and nurses giving people the actual shots and monitoring their response.
This vast, highly sophisticated distribution system is only possible because businesses, governments and individuals have invested countless time and resources to develop a healthcare delivery system capable of responding to a pandemic of this scope.
In my job as the head of an advocacy organization for the private investment industry, I have seen the benefits of this expertise and capital when it’s deployed, whether it’s developing COVID tests or processing those results or collecting blood and plasma to study the virus and treat patients suffering the most debilitating effects. Recently, we have seen private capital invest in a cryogenic storage and logistics company that transports temperature sensitive life-sciences products to the patients who need them. Others are investing extensively in the medical supply chain and data collection.
Until this pandemic hit, I had never fully appreciated how deeply a public health crisis can undermine an otherwise-robust economy. But it has been impressive to watch healthcare professionals, scientific researchers, pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. government work together to address this challenge. I never appreciated the scope of a vaccine trial or how important this would be to revive the global economy or ours here in the U.S. The system is not always perfect, but it is built to do hard things.
The development and distribution of these vaccines are a testament to America’s strength. We must continue to support policies that allow the United States to create an environment that encourages investment and innovation.
Drew Maloney is the president and CEO of the American Investment Council, and former Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Treasury.