When Pfizer’s promising COVID 19 vaccine is ready for the public, as seems likely soon, this feat will have been accomplished without a dime from the American taxpayer.  

As Matthew Lynn reports in the U. K. Spectator (“Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Is a Victory for the Free Market”):

Amid all the justifiable excitement over the potential approval of the first safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19 it would be easy to overlook one point: the vaccine was developed with private money. The US government set up Operation Warp Speed to fund lots of different initiatives for finding a scientific way out of this mess. But the American drugs giant decided against taking the money. The reasons were explained by its chief executive Dr. Albert Bourla in an interview on American television, and his remarks are worth quoting in full:

‘I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy. When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings. They want reports. I didn’t want to have any of that. Basically I gave them an open chequebook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, by the way.’

It should be noted that Pfizer’s partner, BioNTech, did get funding from the German government but only after the vaccine was well advanced.

This in no way takes away from Operation Warp Speed. Other companies that did receive money from OWS are near a vaccine. And OWS was not just about money—it allowed for companies to adopt their own protocols, which made the process faster but not less safe.

Government involvement is sometimes essential—but it always comes with strings attached. Lynn concludes:

The important point is surely this. As Bourla explained, government programmes are always political. They come with targets, demands, quotas and scrutiny. None of that is much use for sparking creativity, or innovative science, or for creating new ways of manufacturing a new product at scale.

Sure, as its critics from the left will no doubt be quick to point out, Pfizer will also have more freedom on pricing because it has not taken government support. But it is hard to imagine anyone really thinks £7.5 billion a year is an unreasonable price for ridding the world of this virus. Ten times that amount would still be a bargain. Free markets take a lot of criticism. We hear a lot about how companies have to be regulated, controlled, and taxed. It is easy to forget the virtues of an enterprise-based system.

Read the entire article.