The Covid-19 vaccine made by pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GSK is still being tested and does not yet have a release date, but plans are in place for it to be fabricated in Vitry-sur-Seine (Ile-de-France) for European distribution.
President of Sanofi, Olivier Bogillot, revealed details about the pricing of the vaccine to news source FranceInter on Saturday (September 5). He said the price “has not been completely defined yet” but would be “less than €10”.
A statement released by Sanofi on Sunday slightly contradicted Mr Bogillot’s claim. The company said: “The vaccine will be affordably priced. Less than €10 is only one of the possibilities we are working on.”
Sanofi is expected to announce an official price at the end of the year when stage 3 testing of the product begins. For now, Mr Bogillot said: “We are still measuring the production costs that we will take on in the coming months”.
Although it is not known when the Sanofi-GSK vaccine will be available, it will be released in Europe and the USA at the same time. Mr Bogillot confirmed: “The French and Europeans will have our vaccine at the same time as American patients”.
Other companies predict Covid vaccine prices
Meanwhile, British-Swedish competitor AstraZeneca predicts its vaccine will cost a quarter of the price. Director general Pascal Soriot said the company plans to “release the vaccine at cost price in all geographic regions of the world” at a cost of around €2.50.
American company Johnson & Johnson, who also has an agreement to distribute in the USA, has estimated their vaccines will cost $10 (€8.45).
Pfizer, another American company, has forecast a price of $19.50 (€16.47) per vaccine.
World Health Organisation says no vaccine before mid-2021
Discussions over price come as Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on August 11 that Russia had successfully developed the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. American authorities have also made “urgent” calls for a vaccine to be “operational” before the US presidential election in November.
In contrast, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it doesn’t expect a vaccine to be available until mid-2021.
WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said on September 4: “A considerable number of candidates have now entered into stage 3 of testing. We know of at least six to nine that have already completed a long research period. But in terms of a realistic schedule, we really don’t expect to see a widespread vaccination before the middle of next year.”
Ms Harris went on to explain that stage 3 testing of vaccines can often take a long time as objectives include making sure that products are effective and safe for use. She also reminded that pharmaceutical companies should respect security protocol over speed of development.
However, she said it was “good news” that companies were “already reflecting on how they could increase vaccine production once we know which [vaccine] will be used.”
Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, has said the organisation is working with experts across the world including the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the European EMA (European Medicines Agency) to “propose criteria” for the security and effectiveness of a future Covid-19 vaccine.
She said: “We would like to have a vaccine that is at least 50% effective, preferably more."