Michael Bird is a music teacher for Tallassee City Schools and a regular columnist for TPI.

Business, they say, is business.

But when a global pandemic sends the entire world into a panic and the United States government generously gifts a pharmaceutical company $2.48 billion to come up with a vaccine, one might imagine that generosity would somehow be rewarded.

There is a reward, but it is for one greedy individual.

For those not paying attention, the reward isn’t going to the federal government.  It’s not going to the taxpayers.  It’s not even going to families of those who died after taking the Covid vaccine. 

The golden parachute goes to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.  

The pharmaceutical company’s board of directors last week approved an exit package for Bancel worth more than $926 million in the event the company is sold or he is fired.

$926 million.  Seven million people died of Covid over the past three years; there have been 668 million cases reported.  Moderna reported that they have given 807 million doses of the Covid vaccine and have sold $17 billion worth of shots – the company’s only product. 

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Even with those numbers, and even if this guy guided his company through this unprecedented time, it’s disgusting for him to be offered this much money – and it makes Big Pharma look even worse than it already does. 

Billions in government funding, millions of jabs, millions of deaths.  The numbers are so large, one can get lost trying to count the zeroes.  And while he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, one thing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont does is call attention to this type of inequality between the billionaires and the regular people.

Last week, during a Senate committee hearing on the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanders asked Rober Califf, the Commissioner of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), if he was aware of this upcoming payment to the Moderna CEO.  

Califf dismissed Sanders and not only did he say he didn’t know about it, he said it wasn’t his job to keep up with things like this. 

"But if one guy ends up with $900 million, rather than using that money to get out the medicine we need, the vaccines we need out to the people, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me," Sen. Sanders said to the FDA leader. 

It just so happens that Moderna’s stocks are also up right now – shares in the company reached an all-time high of $497 per share recently. 

No one disagrees with the improbable success of Moderna even as it rode to the rescue on the backs of pandemic victims.  The free enterprise system should work for everyone.  But this ridiculous payout is beyond the pale. A $926 million golden parachute is an outrage.  The American taxpayer should be repulsed at the greed behind the actions of the Moderna board of directors, and of one Stephane Bancel – who is profiting handsomely from a government gift and the illness of millions of people around the world.