By Christina Hager

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – A group of local science and research activists led a rally through the streets of Cambridge Friday. “People before profits,” shouted members of the group called Free the Vaccine. They marched to the headquarters of Moderna, one of the companies leading the charge in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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“We’re here today because Moderna has received too much of our taxpayer funds to not be having an active conversation with our government about how people are going to access the vaccine,” said Sernah Essien.

The group is demanding that Moderna make its vaccine available at cost, with no profit. They also want the company to open up its scientific data to allow for generic manufacturing. They say these moves would make the vaccine affordable to more people.

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A spokesperson with Moderna sent WBZ-TV a statement. “We have worked with the U.S. government on pricing that ensures our COVID vaccine, once approved, is accessible and affordable … Americans will receive mRNA-1273 at no cost for the vaccine itself.”

Earlier this month, the National Governors Association sent a memo to governors across the country saying, “Governors may want to begin addressing the challenges of mass distribution before its arrival. Immunizing the U.S. population against COVID-19 will likely require the single largest vaccination campaign ever.”

“It’s a massive undertaking,” said Dr. Mark Poznansky, who is the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Vaccine Immunotherapy Center. “There would be very, very careful debate about budgetary needs of how you’re going to institute distribution in low-income areas in Boston or towns around Boston.”

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The release of a vaccine is not expected until sometime in 2021, at the earliest.

Christina Hager