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22 Nov, 2020 14:28

Russia claims its pioneering Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine will cost less than Western rivals as US pharma giants announce price tags

Russia claims its pioneering Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine will cost less than Western rivals as US pharma giants announce price tags

First the vaccines, now the bill. As G20 leaders called, at the weekend, for fair distribution, US pharma giants have started to announce how much their products will cost,. Meanwhile, Russia says its alternative will be cheaper.

The two American drug makers that aim to bring their vaccines to market first have now revealed their pricing strategies. Pfizer, which filed for US approval of its formula on Saturday, said earlier that a dose of its product will carry a $19.50 price tag. Moderna, thought to be close to signing a deal for a comprehensive rollout in the European Union, announced this week that it will charge between $25-37.

As two doses of the vaccine are required per person, spaced out over several weeks, the overall cost will be doubled; $39 and $50-74, respectively.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Sunday, the makers of Russia's Sputnik V said the price of their formula “will be much lower.” A spokesman for the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the formula developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, said their pricing structure will be formally announced next week. It had previously been indicated that the export price would be around $10 for both jabs. 

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In August, Russia became the first country in the world to register a vaccine for Covid-19. Details were subsequently published in The Lancet medical journal, which showed it was able to induce an immune response in healthy volunteers. Concerns were expressed, however, by some international scientists and commentators over the urgency with which the vaccine was brought forward.

The Gamaleya team was able to develop and test the vaccine quickly thanks to what they call “a well-tested technology platform with substantiated long-term safety.” This approach, using adenoviruses, has already led to three vaccines for Ebola, as well as two new cancer drugs currently in use. Utilizing this platform is also thought to play a role in how swiftly and cheaply the jab can be manufactured and, therefore, its lower price.

While countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas have worked feverishly to secure future supplies of vaccines, often buying into multiple companies’ order books to hedge their bets, there have been fears that poorer nations could be left out. World leaders used the first day of the G20 summit to pledge to “spare no effort” to ensure people across the globe have equitable access to vaccines, tests and anti-coronavirus drugs, according to a communique shared with the media. 

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