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Coordinators of a global coronavirus vaccine funding program are investigating a wide range of potential prices for COVID-19 vaccines, with a price of $ 40 per dose being the "highest number" in this area, one of the co-project leaders said Monday.
Seth Berkley, managing director of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, which is co-leading the COVAX facility to ensure fair global access to COVID 19 shots, said the facility has no specific price target and will also attempt to offer tiered prices for richer and richer ones negotiate poorer countries.
Berkley declined to comment from European Union sources last week that the COVAX facility is targeting a $ 40 price for COVID vaccines for wealthy countries. EU sources had announced that the EU would try to do cheaper business outside of the COVAX system.
"There were a large number of numbers and they (the EU sources) released the highest number," Berkley said in an interview. He said COVAX officials had given "a number of different prices" in a presentation to EU officials.
"And that ($ 40) was the highest price in the range for high-income countries and not a fixed price," he told Reuters.
COVAX, led by GAVI, the World Health Organization and the CEPI coalition for epidemic innovation, is designed to provide quick and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide once they are developed.
The goal is to secure supplies for countries that register by the end of 2021 and to deliver 2 billion cans. GAVI announced earlier this month that more than 75 countries have expressed interest in joining COVAX.
Berkley said that most vaccines are so early in the testing process that it is too early to know what the final price will be.
"The truth is that no one has any idea what the price will be because we have no idea which (potential COVID) vaccine will work," he said.
He said that questions about which technology could be most effective, whether single or double vaccines, or the yields from manufacturing facilities were unanswered and would all affect future vaccine pricing.
According to Berkley, COVAX has started to make estimates based on the known data, but there are no fixed prices. "The challenge is to figure out costs. Anyone who tells you that they know is not being honest."
Berkley, who negotiates with the GAVI alliance to buy bulk vaccines for use in poor countries, said drug manufacturers often use a tiered pricing approach in which poorer countries pay a price, middle-income countries one higher price and rich countries pay the highest price.
He said it is not clear what manufacturers of potential COVID-19 vaccines will suggest, but they are trying to provide cost estimates based on their previous knowledge.
"They will have a number of different prices depending on which (vaccine candidates) will be successful.
"Frankly, given the large quantities we want to access here, it is likely that we will have lower prices."
Berkley said COVAX and some others also include a "speed premium" in the cost of COVID-19 vaccines, which encourages companies to deliver millions of doses at risk before they know if their vaccine candidate is working. "We see that as 15% or 20% of the cost," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)