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Corona vaccine significantly more expensive: Why the EU pays the pharmaceutical companies Biontech and Pfizer 25 percent more


The multi-billion euro deal that the EU has concluded with the pharmaceutical companies Biontech and Pfizer guarantees them higher prices than at the beginning of the year. Moderna also receives more money per dose. Is that justified?

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Extensive research

: Vaccine production in the

Biontech laboratory

Photo: Michael Probst / AP

The European Union's vaccine deals are causing a stir around the world. The EU Commission is now paying vaccine manufacturers significantly more money than at the beginning of the year. The German company Biontech and its US partner Pfizer were able to enforce a price premium of around 25 percent per dose; The price of the corona vaccine from the US company Moderna has risen by almost 13 percent per dose.

Politicians in several EU states criticize that Europe has allowed itself to be ripped off by the corporations. Just last week, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer presented business figures that the Covid vaccine is a real money machine; CEO

Albert Bourla

(59) screwed both sales and profit forecasts upwards. In view of the higher prices, EU officials also referred to increased requirements - and to the market situation.

In coordination with the national governments, the EU Commission under

Ursula von der Leyen

(62; CDU) conducted the negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies. However, after it was heavily criticized for its bumpy procurement in the spring, the authority had to conclude additional supply contracts with the manufacturers - and was prepared to invest significantly more tax money for them. In May 2021, for example, the EU ordered up to 1.8 billion additional cans from Biontech and Pfizer - for 19.50 euros per dose, according to research by the Financial Times. In two earlier contracts for a total delivery volume of 600 million cans, the EU states had only paid 15.50 euros per dose.

The deal now in force - which in purely mathematical terms has a total volume of up to 35 billion euros - accepts a price increase of around a quarter.

Moderna gets almost three dollars more per dose

The surcharge that the US manufacturer Moderna was able to enforce is not quite as high.

While the EU still paid $ 22.60 per dose in the original contracts for around 160 million doses, the additional 300 million doses ordered are now due for $ 25.50 each.

The price is still on the lower end of the $ 25 to $ 37 range the company was targeting last year;

Compared to the first treaties with the EU, however, it has risen by a good eighth.

"It's easy to criticize the EU for spending too little and too late or too much," said

Giovanna De Maio

of the Brookings Institution, a US think tank. "The reality is much more complicated, though. And perhaps it is right to prioritize access to vaccines over costs, given the speed with which the delta variant is spreading."

In Brussels, one considers the higher prices to be justified anyway. An official defended them to the Reuters news agency with the global increase in demand. The value of vaccines has just risen since their effectiveness was proven and they had a positive impact on the economic recovery. In addition, the pharmaceutical companies would now have to meet stricter conditions. "Several factors played a role."

In contrast to the first contracts, the Biontech vaccines, for example, not only have to be produced in Europe, their essential components also have to come from the region.

This is supposed to secure the supply chains - but it also drives up costs.

In addition, the manufacturers guarantee delivery from 2022;

In the first contracts they only had to try "to the best of their ability" to adhere to the delivery quantities agreed in advance.

Another big change compared to the early deals: If the vaccines against the new virus variants are not effective, governments could refuse to buy them;

At the same time, they expect manufacturers to adapt their vaccines.

The US is paying Pfizer and Biontech even more

It is by no means the case that the EU pays particularly high.

The US government of

Joe Biden,

78, is paying even more to Pfizer and Biontech after their latest deal.

On July 23, Washington bought another 200 million doses of the mRNA vaccine at a price of $ 24 per dose, according to Pfizer.

Compared to the first billion-dollar deal from 2020, this was - similar to Europe - an increase of around 23 percent.

Pfizer said the higher prices in the US reflected the investment required to manufacture, package and ship new vaccine formulations, as well as the additional cost of making smaller package sizes suitable for "individual medical offices, including pediatricians".

A Pfizer spokesman did not want to comment on the prices in Europe, but said that the latest contract with the EU differs from the original one in terms of production and delivery, among other things.

Moderna did not respond to a request for comment.

The EU Commission did not want to comment on the prices either.

lhy / Reuters

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2021-08-03

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