Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla sees the pandemic as a chance for Big Pharma to "reset" its reputation. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Pfizer won't try to break the bank if it's able to develop a coronavirus vaccine, CEO Albert Bourla said yesterday during a virtual conference held by Goldman Sachs.

What he said: "If we were to implement free, open-market principles in pricing the product, we could go to huge prices and sell everything we can manufacture. But it would be unethical, I think. We will not do it, because that's really taking advantage of a situation, and people will not forget if you do that."

Yes, but: Bourla still said a vaccine is a "huge commercial opportunity," so Pfizer's definition of a fair price may differ from consumer advocates'.

  • Pfizer's best-selling drug is a vaccine, and the company has been criticized for raising its price.

Between the lines: The pandemic has taken some of the heat off the pharmaceutical industry's pricing tactics, and drug manufacturers are making an aggressive push to "refurbish their public image," Kaiser Health News reported last month.

  • Some of the industry's "strict critics ... are slowing down their criticism now," Bourla said during the conference. "Now is a great opportunity to reset all this."

Go deeper

Case growth outpacing testing in coronavirus hotspots

Data: The COVID Tracking Project. Note: Vermont and Hawaii were not included because they have fewer than 20 cases per day. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't due to increased testing — particularly not where cases have grown fastest over the last month.

Why it matters: The U.S. doesn't yet know what it looks like when a pandemic rages on relatively unchecked after the health system has become overwhelmed. It may be about to find out.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

India has reported more coronavirus cases than any other country besides the U.S. and Brazil, per Johns Hopkins data.

By the numbers: More than 539,000 people have died from the virus and more than 11.6 million have tested positive worldwide. More than 6.3 million patients have recovered.

Updated Jul 6, 2020 - Health

The states where face coverings are mandatory

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed an executive order on Monday making face coverings mandatory in all public and privately owned buildings, effective Tuesday.

The big picture: West Virginia is the latest out of over 20 states that have mandated facial coverings statewide in response to surging coronavirus cases across the U.S. in recent weeks.