Week 16: What’s happening in the world of the vaccine?

The US pays Pfizer $1.95 billion for a vaccine, and Novartis promises COVID-19 related medicines to poor countries “at cost.”

The US Pays Pfizer $1.95 Billion For A Vaccine

On July 22nd, the United States government announced that they had agreed to pay Pfizer $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of a vaccine by the end of 2020, pricing each vaccine at around $20—a much higher cost than analysts had predicted or deemed reasonable. The US government will also have the rights to purchase 500 million more doses after the first batch, in a clear example of what critics have called “vaccine nationalism.” While Pfizer emphasizes that the vaccine will be “free” to Americans, we emphasize that Americans will still be paying for it, in taxes that would otherwise go elsewhere. That is why our campaign goal is not simply for the vaccine to be free but for the vaccine to be “sustainably priced, available to all, and free at the point of delivery.” We’re sorry to see that this deal only meets the last condition.

Novartis Promises COVID-19 Related Meds to Poor Countries “At Cost”

Last week, Novartis announced that it will sell 15 generic and over-the-counter medications to low-and-middle income countries at the cost of manufacturing, and not for profit. This announcement is welcome; companies should not engage in COVID-19 profiteering, and poor countries in particular should have access to medicines at the lowest possible cost. Critics note, however, that Novartis has not announced the actual prices for these medicines yet. For now, we will have to wait to see how affordable they are.

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