In the run-up to the launch of an effective coronavirus vaccine, all pharmaceutical companies and stakeholders have come to one pertinent point -- what about pricing? Some companies such as AstraZeneca that is collaborating with Oxford University, and Johnson and Johnson that is yet to catch up with the leading contenders have said that they are not looking for profit in the initial stages. Some, on the other hand, are still contemplating how to go about this rather sensitive issue.
Moderna, one of the leading contenders that has advanced to the latter stages of human trials, is planning to price the COVID 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). According to the Financial Times, the aforementioned prices have been pitched by the company but is yet to be finalised. Moreover, these prices would apply to high-income countries and the US.
If Moderna's pitch sticks, Americans would end up paying much more for the COVID-19 vaccine than their Indian counterparts. Serum Institute of India that is producing the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine has pegged the vaccine for a much cheaper price. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that the manufacturers are aiming to price the vaccine at under Rs 1,000 ($13) per dose. He had also said that he aims to keep 50 per cent of the production reserved for India.
Poonawalla had also said that he believes the government would pay for the coronavirus vaccine in India. "We are planning to put the price at around Rs 1,000 or less than that per dose. I don't think any individual will have to pay for it because the vaccines will mostly be bought by governments and then distributed free through the immunisation programmes," Poonawalla said.
US company Pfizer and German collaborator BioNTech, whose coronavirus vaccine candidate is also in the advanced stages of human trials, have meanwhile signed a deal with the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy for $3-4 (Rs 225-300) per dose, as mentioned in Financial Times.
The pricing of the COVID vaccine would be decided keeping in mind multiple factors such as the timing, regulatory submissions, medical need, efficacy as well as competition. Some variations in pricing might also take into account the size of orders and timing of delivery. Having said that, it would be difficult to compare coronavirus vaccine prices during their development stages.
The distribution of the coronavirus vaccine also remains another moot point. World leaders including Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa have called for equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine. "Vaccines save lives. That's why we're working here at home and with partners around the world to find one. And when we do, we must keep working together to make sure that people everywhere have access to it - because where you live should not determine whether you live," said Trudeau.