American taxpayers have bought one billion COVID-19 doses from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE.
Our government has also purchased 500 million vaccine doses from Moderna.
That’s enough prevention for two doses to every U.S. resident, plus two jabs to all the citizens of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Jordan, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Somalia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe – combined!
Should our government actually treat those countries, there would still be about 841,000 doses remaining – just in case of an under-count or lost shipment.
Since there are no such plans to help Australia or Austria, the excess vaccine quantity may just be another payoff to appease the bosses at Big Pharma and their white shirt lobby troopers.
Besides having so much vaccine, President Joseph Biden paid an even higher price for the most recent 200 million shots – about $24 each, versus the $19.50 earlier price. As they say in the White House: it’s only taxpayer money!
Which raises the question: how much does it actually cost to produce these “miracle” jabs, and have we been paying too much, even before the recent 20% price hike?
The folks at People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA) say they have the answer. The international organization is ultra-liberal, so criticism of the current White House leadership is about as non-partisan as it gets.
The cost of vaccinating the world against COVID-19 could be at least five times cheaper if pharmaceutical companies weren’t “profiteering from their monopolies” on COVID-19 vaccines, according to the PVA.
Oxfam, an international left-wing organization founded in 1942, has praised the PVA for their vaccine stand:
New analysis by the Alliance shows that the firms Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are charging governments as much as $41 billion above the estimated cost of production.
Colombia, for example, has potentially overpaid by as much as $375 million for its doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, in comparison to the estimated cost price, Oxfam said.
Despite a rapid rise in COVID cases and deaths across the developing world, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have sold more than 90 percent of their vaccines, so far, to rich countries – charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production, according to PVA.
Neither company has agreed to fully transfer vaccine technology to any capable producers in developing countries, and PVA said that move “could increase global supply, drive down prices and save millions of lives.”
Analysis of production techniques for the leading mRNA type vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna ―which were only developed thanks to public funding to the tune of $8.3 billion― suggest these vaccines could be made for as little as $1.20 a dose, Oxfam reported.
Yet COVAX, the scheme set up to help countries get access to COVID vaccines, has been paying, on average, nearly five times more.
COVAX has also struggled to get enough doses and at the speed required, because of the inadequate supply and the fact that rich nations have pushed their way to the front of the queue by willingly paying excessive prices.
PVA says the money spent by COVAX to date could have been enough “to fully vaccinate every person in low and middle-income countries with low cost vaccines, if there was enough supply. Instead, at best COVAX will vaccinate 23 percent by end of 2021.”
Boasting nearly 70 organizations, PVA contends:
The failure of some rich countries to back the removal of monopolies and to drive down these excessive prices has directly contributed to vaccine scarcity in poorer nations.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, said that “pharmaceutical companies are holding the world to ransom at a time of unprecedented global crisis:”
This is perhaps one of the most lethal cases of profiteering in history.
Precious budgets that could be used for building more health facilities in poorer countries are instead being raided by CEOs and shareholders of these all-powerful corporations.”
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS said:
Health workers are dying on the front line all over the world, every single day. Uganda alone lost more than fifty health workers in just two weeks – a reminder of the time when millions of people were dying of HIV in developing countries, because the medicines that could save them were priced too high.
I see lives being saved in vaccinated countries, even as the Delta variant spreads, and I want the same for developing countries. It is criminal that the majority of humanity is still facing this cruel disease unprotected, because Pharma monopolies and super profits are being put first.
Maaza Seyoum, from the African Alliance and People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa, said:
Enabling developing country manufacturers to produce vaccines is the fastest and surest way to ramp up supply and dramatically drive down prices. When this was done for HIV treatment, we saw prices drop by up to 99 percent.
What possible reason then do the governments of the UK, Germany and EU have to ignore the repeated calls from developing countries to break the vaccine monopolies that could drive up production while driving down price?
“Less than one percent of people in low-income countries have received a vaccine, according to Oxfam, which explained its estimate of pricing:
Before the pandemic, developing countries paid a median price of $0.80 a dose for all non-COVID vaccines, according to analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO).
While all vaccines are different and the new vaccines may not be directly comparable, even one of the cheapest COVID 19 vaccines on the market, Oxford/AstraZeneca, is nearly four times this price; the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 13 times; and the most expensive vaccines, such as Pfizer/ BioNTech, Moderna and the Chinese produced Sinopharm, are up to 50 times higher.
Oxfam said the “CEO of Pfizer has suggested potential future prices of as much as $175 per dose ―148 times more than the potential cost of production.”
The PVA highlighted examples of how much both developing and wealthier nations have been potentially overpaying:
- Pfizer/BioNTech are charging their lowest reported price of $6.75 to the African Union, but this is still nearly 6 times more than the estimated potential production cost of this vaccine. One dose of the vaccine costs the same as Uganda spends per citizen on health in a whole year.
- The highest reported price paid for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines was paid by Israel at $28 a dose ―nearly 24 times the potential production cost.
- The EU may have overpaid for their 1.96 billion Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines by as much as €31 billion.
- Moderna has charged countries between 4 and 13 times the potential cost price of the vaccine, and reportedly offered South Africa a price between $30-$42 a dose: nearly 15 times higher than the potential production cost.
- Colombia, which has been badly affected by COVID, has been paying double the price paid by the US for Moderna vaccines. For Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech combined, that country has potentially overpaid by as much as $375 million.
- Senegal, a lower-income nation, said it paid around $4 million for 200,000 doses for Sinopharm vaccines, which equates to around $20 a dose.
- The UK alone has potentially paid £1.8 billion more than the cost of production for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines ―enough money to give every worker in its National Health Service (NHS) a bonus of more than £1000.
Oxfam said the “exact costs of research, development and manufacturing of vaccines are unknown:”
Estimates used are based on studies of mRNA production techniques, carried out by Public Citizen with engineers at Imperial College. Their analysis suggests that it could cost $9.4 billion to produce 8 billion doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ―$1.18 per vaccine and for Moderna it would cost $22.8 billion to produce 8 billion doses ―$2.85 per vaccine.
The figure that companies have been charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production is based on the reported information that is available. The highest reported cost paid was by Israel. For many countries there is no available data on how much they have paid for these vaccines.
Pfizer forecasts sales of $26 billion in revenue for 1.6 billion vaccine doses, therefore at an average cost per dose of $16.25 (against a potential cost price of $1.18 per dose).
Moderna forecasts sales of between 800 million and 1 billion doses, therefore at an average cost of between $19.20 and $24 per dose (against a potential cost price of $2.85 per dose), the total combined forecast of sales income equates to $41 billion above the potential cost of production.
PVA said that just 0.28 per cent of the people in “Low Income Countries” have received at least a single dose, based on a combined population of 775,710,612, and stats from Our World in Data shows that as of Sunday 2,155,657 had been vaccinated with at least a single dose.