Moderna Inc. recently announced that it was considering pricing its COVID-19 vaccine from $110 to $130 per dose when the vaccine hits the commercial market.
According to WSJ, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said, “I would think this type of pricing is consistent with the value” of the vaccine.
Manufacturers of the vaccine are currently negotiating with insurers and purchasers for commercial use of the vaccine after President Biden announced that federal funding for the COVID-19 vaccine would end without Congressional action.
Vaccine manufacturers benefitted from government funding
To date, the government has purchased over 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine from both Moderna and Pfizer at an average cost of about $20.69 per dose.
These vaccines have been offered to Americans at no charge, but that is expected to change once the vaccine hits the commercial market.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the US government has spent over $30 billion on the COVID-19 vaccine. Granted, it’s a small portion of the estimated $5.8 trillion that the federal government spent in 2022, but not only did this money purchase doses of the vaccine, it also contributed to the research and development of a vaccine.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders recently sent a letter to Moderna asking the company to halt the cost increase, saying it is unacceptable to “make the vaccine unaffordable to the residents of the country” who made the vaccine possible. Several other lawmakers already put Pfizer on notice for the same thing.
Getting the vaccine in the future
Even though many Americans will still receive the vaccine for free or at a lower cost through their insurance, the private and public payers will still bear the cost of the vaccine. In addition, there may be administrative costs of delivering the vaccine, increasing the cost even more.
While many Americans won’t see premium increases in 2023, it could definitely impact the market in 2024. The price increase will undoubtably impact the under- and un-insured Americans who may go without the vaccine once it is no longer issued free.
Vaccine demand will impact everyone
This should be a concern to all Americans, because a higher price for the vaccine may put the public at a higher risk if demand falls.
Fewer people getting the COVID-19 vaccine means that more people may get the virus, spreading it through their communities and creating yet another health crisis at a time where the World Health Organization has not downgraded the status of the global pandemic.