Getting to grips with . . .

What do Covid vaccines cost - and who is paying over the odds?

Prices agreed vary wildly as nations scramble to secure enough doses

A record 363,508 first coronavirus vaccinations were administered in the UK yesterday, increasing the total number of people who have had a first dose to almost five million.

But while the figures on how many vaccines are being administered are clear-cut, the prices being paid by countries worldwide for Covid jabs are all over the place. With governments worldwide vying to secure doses of the various vaccines being rolled out, some nations are paying well over the odds as different deals are struck.

Figures released by the National Audit Office show that the UK has spent a total of £12bn on its vaccination campaign so far. The bill includes £2.9bn paid for a total of 267 million doses of five different coronavirus vaccines.

The UK is believed to have spent between £24 and £28 per dose on the Moderna jab, the Daily Mail reports. The domestically produced Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine cost the government around £3 per jab, according to the BBC, while the Pfizer/BioNTech jab has a price tag of around £15.

Over in Israel, which is leading the global race to vaccinate populations, the authorities initially claimed to be paying the equivalent of £22 per dose of the Pfizer jab - substantially more than the UK is shelling out. And the price paid by the Israelis may be even higher, with a health official later telling public broadcaster Kan that each dose had actually cost his country £34.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s Budget State Secretary Eva De Bleeker gave an insight into what the EU is paying when she accidentally tweeted a table last month that showed the price of each jab. The now-deleted tweet revealed that the EU is handing over €1.78 (£1.59) for each dose of the Oxford vaccine and €12 (£10.60) for the Pfizer version.

The Twitter gaffe was noted across the Atlantic, where The New York Times noted that the table also showed that the US was paying above the odds for the Pfizer vaccine, at $19.50 (£14.27) per dose.

In Russia, the manufacturers of the one-dose Sputnik vaccine said in a statement back in November that the cost of its vaccine “for international markets will be less than $10 per dose starting from February 2021”.

“Thus, Sputnik V will be will be two or more times cheaper than foreign vaccines based on mRNA technology with similar efficacy rates,” the company added.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca also released a joint statement in November pledging to make their jab available at cost price “in perpetuity” to low- and middle-incoming nations.

But South Africa’s Health Ministry revealed this week that the price being paid there for the Oxford jab is $5.25 (£3.84), AFP reports - far more than the amount paid by most European nations.

The African “continent's worst virus-hit country has ordered at least 1.5 million shots of the vaccine”, but has not explained why the price tag for the jabs is so high, according to the Paris-based news agency.

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