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Explained: What we know of Covid-19 vaccine pricing at the moment

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine price, availability: Vaccines of Oxford University-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer are undergoing late stage trials and may be launched by year-end. Here is how much they may cost

Written by Abhishek De , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 1, 2020 8:19:30 am
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine price, availability: A doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England (AP)

With four vaccine candidates in final stage human trials and firms eyeing to launch them by year-end, the topic has now veered towards the pricing of the shots and which countries would access them first. The Covid-19 vaccine candidates by University of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc-BioNTech and Chinese firm Sinovac are all undergoing Phase III trials at present.

While Pfizer, Moderna and Merck & Co have said they plan to sell their vaccines at a profit, some drug makers, including Johnson & Johnson have announced plans to price their vaccines on a not-for-profit basis. Johnson and Johnson has said it would make the Covid-19 vaccine available at $10 for “emergency pandemic use”.

However, even before regulatory approval, several rich countries have entered into pre-purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers, a development that has come to be known as “vaccine nationalism”. Experts have contended that the move was harmful for equitable access to vaccines.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines price, availability

💉 Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Oxford University’s AZD1222 vaccine, based on a chimpanzee adenovirus called ChAdOx1, is already undergoing a combined Phase II/III trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and may soon be tested in India as well. Early results have shown that the vaccine produces a dual immune response in people aged between 18 and 55 years. The vaccine increased levels of both protective neutralising antibodies and immune T-cells that target the virus.

Availability and deals: AstraZeneca has partnered with Serum Institute of India (SII) to produce one billion doses of the vaccine in India and middle and low-income countries. Phase III human clinical trials is likely to start in India by late August and it may be launched as early as November.

The UK government has already struck a deal for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine. The firm has also signed a $127 million deal with the Brazilian government to produce an initial 30 million doses. The firm has agreed to provide the US 300 million doses of the vaccine in exchange for $1.2 billion in upfront funding.

Oxford vaccine price: Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, said the cost of the vaccine is estimated to be below Rs 1,000 ($13) and will be called Covishield in India. In the UK, Oxford has said the vaccine will be available at a low cost.

Dr Sarah Gilbert, Oxford vaccine, coronvirus vaccine, Oxford Coronvirus vaccine, Dr Sarah Gilbert oxford vaccine, Indian Express In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford, samples from the coronavirus vaccine trials, from various parts of the country, are handled inside the Oxford Vaccine Group laboratory in England. (AP)

💉 Moderna coronavirus vaccine

Moderna Inc has started Phase III trials of its mRNA-1273 vaccine involving 30,000 human volunteers. The vaccine uses messenger RNA, a synthetic form of genetic material from the virus designed to nudge the body’s immune system into attack mode. Phase I results have shown the vaccine is safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers.

Availability and deals: Data of Phase III trials to determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine will start coming in by November and the vaccine may be available by the end of December.

The US government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars and the firm has signed an agreement with drugmaker Catalent Inc to make an initial 100 million doses. It has also signed an agreement with Spain’s Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi SA, Swiss contract drugmaker Lonza Group AG and the Israel government.

Moderna vaccine price: Moderna is planning to price the vaccine at $50-60 (Rs 3,700-Rs 4,500) for the entire course. This would mean that per dose would be priced at $25-30 (Rs 1,800-Rs 2,300). Moderna’s proposed price will apply to the United States and other high-income countries, a Reuters report said.

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💉 Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine

Last week, American drugmaker Pfizer Inc, which has partnered with German biotech firm BioNTech to develop a vaccine candidate called BNT162b2, progressed to phase II/III trials. The vaccine, which will be tested on up to 30,000 participants, has been found to induce an immune response in patients, early results have revealed. Volunteers given two doses of the vaccine produced virus-neutralising antibodies.

Availability and deals: Pfizer is hoping to seek regulatory approval for the vaccine “as early as October” and have a vaccine on the market by year end.

Recently, the Donald Trump administration, in one of the largest investments yet, announced a nearly $2 billion contract with Pfizer for 100 million doses. The UK government has secured 30 million doses of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine. Deals have been signed with the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy as well.

Pfizer vaccine price: In The Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy, the vaccine will be priced at $3-4 (Rs 225-300) per dose, as mentioned in Financial Times. In the US, the price will be $39 for what is likely to be a two-dose course of treatment, or $19.50 per dose.

💉 GAVI vaccine alliance

The GAVI vaccine alliance, of which India is a part and has pledged $15 million, said it would seek to negotiate tiered pricing for richer and poorer countries. Seth Berkley, chief executive of the alliance, which is co-leading the COVAX facility, told Reuters that it was targeting a $40 price for the vaccines in the wealthy countries.

With over 75 countries expressing interest in joining COVAX, the alliance aims to secure supplies of and deliver 2 billion doses across countries who sign up by the end of 2021.

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