What Covid vaccines cost - and the countries paying over the odds
Figures suggest that quicker vaccine rollouts are pay to play
The UK’s vaccination campaign is continuing at pace, with more than 33.5 million doses administered to patients across the country.
But while the figures on how many vaccines administered are clear-cut, the prices paid by countries worldwide for Covid jabs are not.
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 in December estimated that the UK had spent nearly £12bn on its vaccination campaign so far. The bill included £2.9bn paid for a total of 267 million doses of five different coronavirus vaccines.
The domestically produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine costs the government around $3 (£2.17) per jab, according to the BMJ in January. The EU is paying $2.15 (£1.56) per dose of the UK-developed vaccine, the journal added, while the US is paying marginally more than the UK at $4 (£2.90) per jab.
Oxford University and AstraZeneca also released a joint statement in November pledging to make their vaccine available at cost price “in perpetuity” to low- and middle-incoming nations. But South Africa’s Health Ministry revealed in January that the price being paid there for the Oxford jab was $5.25 (£3.84), AFP reported - far more than the amount paid by most European nations.
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.
Belgium’s budget state secretary Eva De Bleeker gave an insight into what the EU is paying when she accidentally tweeted a table in December that showed the price of each jab. The bloc is paying €12 (£10.60) for the Pfizer version.
The social media error was particularly embarrassing for the bloc as “the EU had undertaken to keep the prices confidential in return for discounts”, the BMJ says. The Twitter gaffe was also noted across the Atlantic, where The New York Times said the table showed that the US was paying above the odds for the Pfizer vaccine, at $19.50 (£14.27) per dose.
The vaccine’s development was partly subsidised by the US government and will cost the US about $15 (£10.86) a dose, while the EU is paying $18 (£13.03), the BMJ adds.
Israel is paying “$23.50 per dose on average” as part of a deal that saw the country “obtain early shipments”, the journal adds.
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 two or more times cheaper than foreign vaccines based on mRNA technology with similar efficacy rates,” the company added. No reliable figures exist on what individual countries have paid for the Russian vaccine, with Hungary and Slovakia becoming the first EU countries to negotiate the purchase of the jab that is yet to be given approval by the European Medicines Agency.