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The coronavirus vaccine will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make—here’s why

how much will the coronavirus vaccine cost
Photo via Naval Surface Warriors/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

As more than two dozen groups developing a COVID-19 vaccine reach the clinical trial stage, experts remain hopeful that the world could see a vaccine by early 2021. Creating and disseminating millions of vaccines will be no small feat, and it will surely cost a pretty penny—and people want to know who is expected to foot the bill. In essence, how much will the coronavirus vaccine cost?

John Lewis, CEO of biotech company Entos Pharmaceuticals, told Marketplace that the minimum development of a vaccine costs $150 million to cover just basic research and clinical trials. Lewis said the cost goes up from there depending on how the vaccine is made, what kind of manufacturing and packaging it will need, and whether the researchers are lucky. 

According to Reuters, Pfizer, an organization working on a COVID-19 vaccine, said its costs could run as high as $1 billion for its vaccine. 

Bruce Y. Lee, health policy and management professor at the City University of New York, told Marketplace the cost of a vaccine would ultimately be decided by insurers, vaccine makers, and the government. 

“They’ll present the data and say, ‘Look, this is why we need to charge this much, this is why you should bring the price down, this is why we aren’t gonna cover it or we are gonna cover it,'” Lee said. 

Marketplace reports the cost could vary depending on the vaccine if scientists develop multiple vaccines. The price would change depending on the vaccine’s efficacy rate, or how effective it is at preventing the virus. 

It could also depend on where you live in the world.

“You see a spectrum of prices,” Jason Schwartz, assistant professor of health policy at Yale, told Marketplace. “A vaccine that costs $200 a dose in the U.S. might cost $3 or $4 a dose in the 50 or 60 lowest-income countries in the world.”

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