News Release

Public investment in critical research contributed to the success of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

Analysis finds that in the 35 years before the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. government invested at least $337 million into research that directly led to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have recently announced plans to increase the price of their respective mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, thrusting them into the spotlight of debates around drug price hikes. A new study, led by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham health care system, analyzed the role of public funding in the development of mRNA vaccines. In a systematic assessment, the team found that over the last 35 years, three federal agencies—the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority—invested at least $337 million into critical research, including basic and translational science, and vaccine development that directly led to the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.

In addition, during the first two years of the pandemic, the U.S. government contributed over $31.6 billion to support clinical trials, manufacturing, and vaccine supply for all Americans and for global donation. These investments include more than $18 billion to Moderna and $13 billion to Pfizer-BioNTech.

“The development of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic was a monumental scientific success and was possible because of the scientific discoveries that took place in the preceding decades,” said Hussain Lalani, MD, MPH, of the Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL), Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and corresponding author of the BMJ article. “mRNA vaccines have saved millions of lives. The substantial public investment in research that led to these vaccines should justify equitable and affordable access to these lifesaving vaccines globally.”

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