A COVID-19 Vaccine Could Cost You Four Times As Much Soon — Here’s Why

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moch Farabi Wardana/Pacific Press/Shutterstock (12543989b)A health worker shows a bottle of the moderna covid 19 vaccine to the general public.
Moch Farabi Wardana/Pacific Press/Shutterstock / Moch Farabi Wardana/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

A leading drugmaker’s plan to quadruple the price of its COVID-19 vaccine when the public health emergency ends has not gone over well on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers criticized the company’s top executive in a hearing this week.

That company, Moderna, is expected to raise the price of its COVID-19 vaccine booster to $130 per dose when the health emergency ends in May, The Hill reported. That’s up from a current cost of about $26 per dose.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel appeared before Congress this week to explain the company’s decision and got an earful from lawmakers.

“I would hope very much you would reconsider that decision [because it] would cost the taxpayers of this country billions of dollars,” U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), told Bancel during the hearing.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) also chimed in, telling Bancel that more than one-quarter of Americans “struggle to pay” for their prescription medications.

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“These same Americans are the taxpayers who are footing the bill for research and drug development that companies like Moderna are benefiting from,” Baldwin said.

Moderna Recieved $1.7 Billion in Grant Funding, CEO Says it Returned $2.9 Billion

Indeed, Moderna received nearly $1 billion from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for vaccine development and trials, according to The Hill.

Bancel conceded that his company got a boost from the U.S. government in developing its vaccine, which ranks second behind Pfizer’s among the most administered in the country. But he also pointed out the financial role Moderna played.

“The U.S. government gave us and four other vaccine companies funding to accelerate clinical trials,” Bancel said. “While the government provided $1.7 billion in grant funding, Moderna returned $2.9 billion.”

The Moderna CEO also explained his company’s reasoning behind the price hike, telling the committee that its next COVID-19 shots will be more expensive because they’ll be sold in single-dose vials or pre-filled syringes for the commercial market vs. the 10-dose vials it has sold to the government, Reuters reported.

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In addition, Bancel said Moderna anticipates that it will likely make more doses than needed to ensure it has enough for the private market. The cost of wasted vaccines has also been calculated into the price.

“On top of all this, we’re expecting a 90% reduction in demand,” Bancel said. “As you can see, we’re losing economies of scale.”

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In February, Moderna forecast $5 billion in COVID vaccine sales for 2023 — a steep drop from the $18.4 billion it raked in last year.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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