Week 12: What’s happening in the world of the vaccine?

We should all be outraged about the global access issues with Gilead’s drug remdesivir. Meanwhile, support grows for a free vaccine…

A High Price for Remdesivir

On June 29th, Gilead announced that in the United States, its coronavirus drug remdesivir will be priced at $520 per vial—$3,120 per treatment—for private buyers, Medicare, and Medicaid. For other United States government programs and for other high-income countries, remdesivir will cost $390 per vial, or $2,340 per treatment. Remdesivir has received $70 million in public funding, and Gilead’s price is 10 times the cost-effective price suggested by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review for a drug with no mortality benefit. Let’s not forget that Gilead’s CEO takes home a salary of over $30 million.

Treatment Nationalism

A day later, reports came out that the United States government had bought up over 500,000 doses of remdesivir, the entire world’s supply for the next three months at least. Although remdesivir has not been shown to reduce coronavirus deaths, studies suggest the drug can reduce recovery time, meaning it has the potential to decrease the burden on the health system. Regardless of remdesivir’s effectiveness, the “America First” approach the United States has taken is obviously unjust, and a concerning precedent as the world waits for a vaccine.

High-Profile US Leaders Support A Free Vaccine

Senator Bernie Sanders has been vocal in his support for a free vaccine for a while now, but another former Democratic presidential candidate has joined him in that stance. Pete Buttigieg tweeted this week that “when there is a vaccine for COVID-19 it needs to be available for everyone – and at no cost.”

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