The coordinators of a global COVID-19 vaccine funding scheme are considering wide-ranging pricing options for the COVAX shots. Nairametrics understands that a reported $40 per dose price tag is currently the highest number in that range, according to disclosures by Seth Berkley, one of the co-leads of the project.
Berkley, who is the CEO of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance — the public-private global health partnership that is co-leading the COVAX facility designed to ensure fair global access to the vaccine, stressed that the facility has yet to reach a specific target price. He did, however, note that they would seek to negotiate tiered-pricing for richer and poorer countries.
GAVI Vaccine Alliance’s CEO also rejected earlier comments by some EU sources last week suggesting that the COVAX facility was actually targeting a $40 price tag for wealthy nations. The EU sources had stated that the regional body would be seeking to secure cheaper deals outside of the COVAX scheme.
Speaking to Reuters during an exclusive interview, Berkley said that “there was a large range of numbers, and they (the EU sources) put the highest number out. He said that in a presentation to EU officials, COVAX officials had given a range of different prices. And that ($40) was the maximum price in the range for high-income countries, rather than a set price.”
What you should know: COVAX is co-led by GAVI, the World Health Organization, and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The main aim of the alliance is to guarantee fast and equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are developed.
The alliance will secure supplies and distribution of about 2 billion doses of the vaccine across countries and who sign up by the end of next year. GAVI said that more than 75 countries have already signed up.
In the meantime, most vaccines are in the early testing process, according to Berkley. As such, it is too soon to know what the final price would be.
“The truth is nobody has an idea what the price is going to be, because we have no idea which (potential COVID) vaccine is going to work,” he said.
According to him, COVAX started putting together estimates based on what is known, but there are no firm prices. In his words, “the challenge is trying to come up with a cost. Anybody who tells you they know isn’t being honest.”
He also explained that drugmakers frequently use a tiered pricing approach, in which poorer countries pay the lowest price, middle-income countries a higher price, and rich countries pay the highest price. He is not sure, for now, what manufacturers of potential COVID-19 vaccines will propose. However, they are trying to put forward cost estimates based on what they know so far.
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“You’re going to have a range of different prices, depending upon which ones (vaccine candidates) are going to succeed.”
Back story: Recall that some vaccine candidates from drugmakers like Moderna and AstraZeneca have all recorded positive outcomes in their early trial stage. As Nairametrics reported, there have been concerted efforts to develop vaccines for the coronavirus diseased.
The WHO has revealed that about 150 vaccines for COVID-19 are currently under development globally.