By Gary Olson, Ph.D., a member of the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.
[Note: The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency and some four million people may be infected this year. Zika may cause brain damage and unusually small heads in newborns—called microcephaly. Women who become infected while pregnant are at especially high risk.]
Uppyurs Pharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturing behemoth, is frantically attempting to vanquish rivals Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and others by producing a Zika vaccine. A copy of the minutes from a recent Uppyurs Executive Board meeting was surreptitiously obtained by the author.
According to the minutes, “If everything breaks right we will have a Zika vaccine on the market by mid-2018 and we anticipate revenues in the range of $7.5 billion dollars. Proceeding with this is a no-brainer.”
The report also reveals that $78.00 for a single Zika inoculation will price the vaccine out of reach for all but the wealthy in the world’s 35 poorest countries. One of our serious challenges is to neutralize a guilt-ridden American public’s demand to make the vaccine more accessible or even—God help us—free to poor people. Our strategy includes:
- Because Americans are almost pathologically compassionate, we’ve been working on an empathy-inhibitor medication under the brand name ClearSoul. We can report that ClearSoul has been clinically tested on Uppyurs’s upper level management and has proven 100% effective. ClearSoul promises to be the most lucrative product in Uppyurs’s history, if not the history of the world. We saw a need and filled it. ClearSoul will be timed for market release just as Zika is declared a pandemic.
- Massive lobbying of Senate Foreign Relations Committee members so any government attempting to develop an inexpensive, generic version of the vaccine will be immediately accused of aiding and abetting global terrorism and be targeted by the U.S. drone attacks. We anticipate this will be an easy sell to the media and the public.
- As a distraction and to lighten the mood, we’ll prepare a series of small-headed baby jokes such as, “Why will Brazil’s soccer teams fail to make the World Cup after 2028? They’ll be unable to head the ball.”
- Friendly media sources have agreed to “tell Uppyurs’s story,” an inspiring narrative we’ve ghost written and which recommends that a Nobel Prize for Selfless Giving be created and bestowed upon Uppyurs Corporation. As a PR move, we’ll donate the Nobel Prize cash award of $1.5 million to the “Tiny Hoodies for Zika Victims” campaign and emblazon them with the Red, White and Blue Uppyurs logo.
- Candidly acknowledging the fact that immunizations in underdeveloped countries now cost nearly 70 times as much as they did in 2001, but that’s only because of supply and demand. Not enough poor people have died off, but that should change soon.
- When questioned about lowering costs for the Zika vaccine, our standard mantra is that we need to pay huge legal fees for patenting the manufacturing process, and who could deny the fairness of $25 million dollar bonuses for each member of our board of directors?
- Regrettably, governments of these desperately poor countries can only afford one vaccination program, including but not limited to Zika, whooping cough, TB, cholera, Ebola, Nipah virus, malaria, hepatitis B and D, HIV/AIDS and dengue fever. Given the immense profit margins for us, we’ve already bribed most public health ministers to choose Zika. The others will be banished from office by inventive, high profile sex and corruption scandals.
- Our invariable response to all criticism will be: Maximizing shareholder profits would be an egregious violation of our God-given, fiduciary trust. Anything less would be both Un-American and socialist.
- Finally, we’re working on an exciting new marketing slogan, tentatively titled:
Uppyurs: Making the World Healthier for Those of Us Who Really Matter.
This meeting is adjourned and, as always, “God Bless America and God Bless Uppyurs!”