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Current Affairs

Covid-19 vaccine pricing

Date: 30 July 2020 Tags: Biotechnology


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 the 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 drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson have announced plans to price their vaccines on a not-for-profit basis.

  • 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”. 

  • Oxford University’s AZD1222 vaccine, based on a chimpanzee adenovirus called ChAdOx1, is already undergoing combined Phase II/III trials in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and may soon be tested in India as well.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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 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).

  • 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 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.

  • 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.