What Are the Hidden Costs of the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The largest vaccine rollout in history, 35 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the U.S. as of Feb. 3, according to Bloomberg data. Since the doses were purchased with taxpayer funds, they’re given at no cost — at least on the surface.
You won’t receive a bill for the vaccine itself, but providers are allowed to charge an administration fee for giving the shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your public or private insurance company will pay this cost or the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund, if you’re uninsured.
COVID-19 vaccine administration rates are $28.39 for a single-dose vaccine, according to Medicare. For a two-dose series, the first shot has a $16.94 administration fee, rising to $28.39 for the second dose. Medicare also noted these rates will be geographically adjusted.
On the surface, the vaccine is free, but there could also be hidden costs you’ll want to think about. For example, you might need to take time off work to get the shot — twice if you receive a two-dose vaccine. If you have to travel a distance to access it, you might also incur transportation costs.
Additionally, vaccine efforts are being funded with taxpayer dollars. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has directed nearly $10 billion to Operation Warp Speed, according to the Department of Defense. This includes more than $6.5 billion for countermeasure development through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and $3 billion for National Institutes of Health research.
Breaking it down even further, Moderna received $955 million in federal funding for research and development under OWS. The company will also receive $1.5 billion in government funding for 100 million doses of its two-dose vaccine, which totals approximately $30.50 per person for both shots.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech didn’t receive federal funding for the research and development of their two-dose vaccine. However, the U.S. government’s order of 100 million doses of the vaccine in July 2020 cost $1.95 billion.
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Johnson & Johnson received $456 million in federal funding for clinical trials and other vaccine development activities. The U.S. government also paid the company $1 billion for 100 million doses of its single-dose vaccine. It could be authorized this month, but might not have a major supply ready until April, according to The New York Times.
Novavax was awarded $1.6 billion under OWS for the research and development of its two-dose vaccine. While it isn’t available yet, it could be rolled out by June 2021, according to The New York Times.
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AstraZeneca also received $1.2 billion in federal funds for 300 million doses of its two-dose vaccine. It was authorized for emergency use in the U.K. in December 2020, but clinical trials are still ongoing in the U.S.
In total, it remains to be seen exactly how much the COVID-19 vaccine will cost taxpayers — and you as an individual. However, it’s hard to put a price on life-saving vaccines that can end a global pandemic.
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