U.S. pricing was in line with the cost of seasonal flu vaccines and was much cheaper than vaccines in conditions like shingles, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
“This price doesn’t seem offensive, even if you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about prescription drugs,” said Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Just thinking of any recipe I would fill out, it would be very hard to find everything for $ 20.”
But the fact that Pfizer apparently made a pre-tax profit of about $ 900 million from its vaccine – coupled with relatively small sales to poor countries – suggests that profits have overturned other aspects as well. This undermines the company’s application of more lonely principles.
“At Pfizer, we believe every person deserves to be seen, listened to and nurtured,” CEO Albert Bourla said in January when the company announced it would join Covax. “We share Covax’s mission and are proud to be able to work together to give developing countries the same access as the rest of the world.”
But the company seems to have put higher-priced sales in the forefront.
“Despite all the talks about Covax, they were much more interested in bilateral agreements because they are earning their money there,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the Strategic Division for Globalization and Development at the UN Conference on Trade and Conference in Geneva. “It’s a recent major triumph in corporate history.”
Several factors explain the unequal distribution of Pfizer vaccines.
The shot, which has to be stored and transported at very low temperatures, is less practical in hard-to-reach parts of the world than other shots such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which can be easily placed in the refrigerator. Some poor countries were not initially hit hard by the virus, so their governments were less in a hurry to order the Pfizer vaccine if they could afford to pay for the shots.
“Not everyone is interested in vaccination or they are not prepared to take action; thus, discussions will continue, including working with Covax, when the initial 40 million doses are exceeded, ”said Ms. Castillo, a spokeswoman for Pfizer.