THE relevant government official was recently quoted as saying that no company had announced the price of the Covid-19 vaccine which is in the pipeline. According to global news outlets, two firms have set the initial price at $19.50 a dose, which comes to $39 per patient, as each vaccine requires a two-dose regimen.

The United States has agreed to pay $19.50 per jab for 100 million doses. A French drug-maker working with another partner, has agreed with the European Union to set the price at about 10 euros ($11.80) per dose.

Yet another firm has said it intends to make a profit from its vaccine and has sold the options for all of its supply to rich nations at prices ranging from $12-16 per dose in the US to around $35 per dose for other countries.

Pakistan has set aside $100 million to buy the vaccine. Although this is encouraging, simply allocating money for the vaccine is not good enough. Pakistan needs to pre-order the required doses. The wealthy countries have already pre-ordered more than two billion doses.

Two of the firms have a $1.95bn contract with the US government to deliver 100 million vaccine doses beginning this year. They have also reached supply agreements with the EU, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.

By mid-August, the US had secured 800 million doses of at least six vaccines in the development stage, with an option to purchase around one billion more.

The United Kingdom was the world’s highest per-capita buyer, with 340 million doses purchased; around five doses for each citizen. The EU nations, which are buying vaccines as a group, and Japan have locked down hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines for themselves.

Bangladesh has so far secured only one dose for every nine people, while Brazil and Indonesia have agreements to buy millions of doses of vaccines that are undergoing phase III trials in their countries. In India, a leading vaccine manufacturer has signed a license with a foreign firm to produce one billion doses of the latter’s vaccine per year.

The number of people who can be vaccinated will also depend on the number of doses administered. Many of the frontrunner vaccines are set to be administered in two doses. There are efforts under way to develop a one-dose vaccine as well.

Wealthy nations representing just 13 per cent of the world’s population have already cornered more than half – 51 per cent, to be precise – of the promised doses of leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

Details show that supply deals have already been agreed for 5.303bn doses, of which 2.728bn have been bought by developed countries. These include the UK, the US, Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel, as well as the European Union. The remaining 2.575bn doses have been bought by or have been promised to be delivered to developing countries, like, among others, India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

It will be nice if the government may share information about where does Pakistan stand on the vaccine front.

F.H. Mughal

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020


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