Though COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket, more hope is on the way. After Pfizer and Moderna announced success with their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines last week, British pharma giant AstraZeneca said Monday that its experimental vaccine, AZD1222, developed with the University of Oxford, is 70 percent effective in preventing the coronavirus.
Although AstraZeneca’s efficacy rate wasn’t as impressive as that of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s (both 95 percent), the news was a huge boost of hope in the endless battle against COVID-19, especially considering the Pfizer and Moderna alone won’t be able to deliver enough doses to meet the massive demand out there. AstraZeneca also says its vaccine can hit 90 percent efficacy under certain dosing conditions.
As more vaccine trials wrap up, it’s also becoming clear how much these vaccines will cost. In the U.S., the first batch of select vaccines will be paid for by the government. However, it’s to be determined who will be eligible to receive free doses and how much out-of-pocket costs will be down the road.
Here’s what we know so far:
Pfizer: $20 per dose. Free for early recipients.
Pfizer will likely be the first COVID-19 to reach the market. The company submitted the FDA application for emergency use authorization on Friday.
Earlier this month, Pfizer CEO assured consumers that the vaccine will be free for all U.S. citizens. He was likely referring to the first 100 million doses pre-ordered by the U.S. government under Operation Warp Speed. Pfizer has promised to deliver that batch before the end of the year, with the possibility of expanding the government contract for an additional 500 million doses in 2021.
After that, it’s unclear how much Pfizer will ask for the vaccine. The wholesale price negotiated in the government contract is $20 per dose.
Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses, given three weeks apart. The company estimates that about 15 million to 20 million people will be vaccinated in the first six months once delivery begins.
Moderna: $10 to $50 per dose. Free for early recipients.
Like Pfizer, Moderna’s first vaccine batch will be covered by government contracts. But pricing will depend on the amount ordered. On Sunday, Moderna CEO Stephen Bancel told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the company will charge governments between $10 and $50 per dose.
The U.S. has secured 100 million doses for Americans at the cost of $15 per dose. (Moderna received nearly $1 billion of U.S. government funding in developing the vaccine.) The European Union is reportedly negotiating a deal to keep the per-dose price under $25.
This vaccine will likely be pricier for retail customers after government programs phase out. In its most recent quarterly earnings, Moderna said the vaccine will be sold for $32 to $37 per dose for some customers.
Also like Pfizer, Moderna’s vaccine also requires two doses.
AstraZeneca: under $4 per dose. Free for early recipients.
AstraZeneca has a $1.2 billion agreement with the U.S. government to supply up to 300 million doses to Americans. That funding also included the money used in the vaccine’s phase 3 trials. So the per-dose price at which the U.S. government has agreed to purchase the vaccine is under $4.
On Monday, AstraZeneca said it will provide vaccines at cost “in perpetuity” to low- and middle-income countries in the developing world.
AstraZeneca is a member of Covax, a global initiative aiming to distribute two billion vaccine doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries at no more than $3 a dose. Neither Pfizer nor Moderna has joined the initiative.
It’s unclear yet how many doses a person will need from AstraZeneca. The company’s phase 3 trials have shown interesting results: two full doses appeared to be only 62 percent effective, while a half dose, followed by a full dose, was 90 percent effective.