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Viewpoint: Mike Hennessy, Sr., founder and chairman of MJH Life Sciences, commends the leadership of the pharmaceutical industry in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published online at PharmTech.com on Jan 6, 2021.
In March 2020, the United States was in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. We shut the entire country down and ground the economy to a halt in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Think back to March, and now much uncertainty we were living under.
Nine months later, FDA approved two COVID-19 vaccines under emergency authorization. Before New Year’s Day, millions of Americans had received the vaccine, including front-line physicians and health care providers and nursing home patients, our most vulnerable citizens.
Nine months. Take a moment to let that sink in.
The mainstream media has crafted a narrative around the COVID-19 pandemic that’s almost entirely negative. For the purpose of ratings, they have described the US response to the pandemic as blundering from one mistake to the next. This narrative is false.
There is another way—a more accurate and underappreciated way—to tell the story of the past nine months. It is a story of heroism, innovation, and precise science, performed under unbelievable pressure.
Let’s not mince words: The United States and the world needs to appreciate the role of the pharmaceutical industry—the researchers, physicians, and business leaders—who are rescuing the world from COVID-19. It’s the medical breakthrough of our lifetime.
Instead of dwelling on why many in the media are ignoring this, let’s review some facts:
The next step of the process—distribution of the vaccine—will be as challenging as the development phase, if not more so. But again, the pharmaceutical industry is rising to the occasion. Factories around the world are working in overdrive to produce hundreds of millions of vaccine doses.
Already, less than a month after the Pfizer vaccine was approved, more than 15.4 million doses of vaccine have been distributed across the country, and more than 4.6 million people have received their first dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Many patients are already receiving their second dose.
While 15.4 million doses are impressive, some expected 20 million doses. But even that is moving the goal line a bit, as six months ago many observers didn’t think we’d get a vaccine until 2021.
Members of our COVID Coalition told us that the holidays slowed the rollout considerably. Nancy Messonnier, MD, a physician with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, expects a rapid jump in administered vaccines during these first few days of 2021.
Every day, more people will be vaccinated. After health care workers and our most vulnerable citizens, other frontline workers will be next. Teachers will be vaccinated so our children can return to school. And soon, all Americans will be able to go to their doctor or walk into a CVS or Walgreens and receive the vaccine.
Remember, we did all this in nine months, with the help, dedication, and expertise of our pharmaceutical industry heroes. Next time you turn on the TV and see negativity, turn it off an imagine instead where we will be nine months from now.
Mike Hennessy Sr is the founder and chairman of MJH Life Sciences.
Vol. 45, No. 2
When referring to this article, please cite it as M. Hennessy, Sr., "How Pharmaceutical Innovation is Saving the World," Pharmaceutical Technology 45 (2) 2021.