The Global COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: Who Profits and Who Gets Left Behind?


In late 2020, the announcement from governments around the world of various approved COVID-19 vaccines reignited hope for a return to normalcy in 2021. However, the vaccine rollout has been complicated by secretive government contracts that give pharmaceutical companies exclusive ownership over patents and latitude in distribution delivery dates and pricing. Early efforts from some vaccine research initiatives, like that out of the University of Oxford, to develop open-source vaccines that would ensure accessibility and affordability across the globe, went by the wayside as those same researchers sold their vaccines to private manufacturers who stand to gain enormous profits. This case asks students to explore the ways that profitability may ultimately come at the cost of an equitable, affordable, and ethical vaccine rollout.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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