Most of the companies that develop the drug against the coronavirus have received donations from external companies or from the governments themselves.
Of all the vaccines that are being developed to protect us from COVID-19, there are eight that are especially interesting due to the advanced state in which they are. They are those made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Curevac, Sanofi/GSK, and Sanofi/Translate Bio. All these companies are trying to get, in record time, an effective and safe drug against the corona virus. To do this, they have needed significant financial aid from various institutions.
In fact, most of the projects, including Pfizer or Moderna, have relied on public money. Only 2.6 billion pounds come from the companies' own investment, as explained in an article by the BBC, with data from the scientific data analysis company Airfinity.
Given the urgency with which the vaccine is needed to end the pandemic, governments have invested significant sums of money to finance the different projects that have been carried out. In total, they have provided 6.5 billion pounds. In addition, the companies in charge of developing the drug have received almost 1.5 billion pounds in donations from philanthropic organizations, such as the Gates Foundation. People like Alibaba founder Jack Ma and country music star Dolly Parton also backed the investigations.
Will pharmaceutical companies make a profit?
With the large amounts they have received from outside companies, some pharmaceutical companies do not want to reflect that they benefit from this global crisis, so they have promised to sell the vaccine at affordable prices. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, for example, intend to market it at € 8 and € 3, respectively, to cover their costs alone. On the other hand, Moderna is setting a much higher price, up to 31 euros each dose, to receive some benefit. However, this high cost is also due to the fact that its corona virus vaccine requires more rigorous transport and storage conditions since it must be kept at very low temperatures, close to 80 degrees below zero.
However, these prices may vary depending on how the pandemic evolves or the country in which the vaccine is sold, according to what each government can afford to pay. According to the BBC, AstraZeneca will only maintain its low price during the "duration of the pandemic," so it could increase in the next year.
Emily Field, director of European pharmaceutical research at Barclays, says that the competition will lower prices as more vaccines appear. "Right now, governments in the rich world will pay high prices because they are eager to get their hands on anything that can help end the pandemic," he explains. In the meantime, we shouldn't expect private companies, especially smaller ones that don't have other products to sell, to make vaccines without looking for profit, says Rasmus Bech Hansen, Airfinity CEO: "These companies took a significant risk, they moved very fast and investments in research and development have been significant."