OUT of about 10 possible vaccines four seem to be out in front, each with their own foibles and prices per dose. When you consider the billions of people who each require two jabs penny difference here and there adds up to a lot.
First on the scene this August was Russia’s Sputnik V. It appeared so quickly that the west doubted its safety and still does even though there have been no adverse reports and even the Lancet, Britain’s top medical journal, found no fault.
The vaccine requires to shots three weeks apart to provide 92% protection. Produced by the Russian state they say they are offering it at cost, at $10 per shot, so a total of $20 or £14.88. So far 11 countries have opted for it, not one of them in Europe. It’s a big winner in the third world as it is easy to store and transport.
The star, or so we are led to believe, of this medical beauty show is American produced Pfizer.
Two shots provides 95% protection but it has drawbacks. The miracle medicine has to be transported and stored in under precise conditions and kept at temperatures of minus 70°C. That’s twice as cold as it ever gets in the Antarctic.
Even then the stuff has a limited shelf life and once a tray has been removed from storage it has to be used within a specific number of hours.
Pfizer is offering the initial shots to the USA for free but in general has put a $20 (£14.88) price tag on each jab making a total of $40 or £29.96 per patient.
Moderna, a newcomer on the American scene, produced its vaccine with a $1 billion helping hand from Uncle Sam and a further $1.3 billion from backers.
Moderna also offers 95% protection after two shots three weeks apart. The company expects to charge $32 to $37 per shot, making it $64 to $74 or £48 to £55.51 per patient. Europe is reported to be trying to make a deal to pay $50 per patient or £37.50.
Finally there is the British product, AstraZeneca or the Oxford vaccine as we call it. This is more temperamental than the others. Early trials showed a disappointing 62% protection but when given in double or one-and-a-half doses, protection increases to an acceptable 90%.
This is the poundland potion costing only £3 a shot or $4 in pretend money. Whether a half shot costs £2 or the full £4 has not been made clear.
When all these prices are multiplied by many millions and billions they all make eye-watering sums.
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