by Oleg Burunov
Earlier this week, chief executive of the US biotechnology company Moderna Stephane Bancel announced that they had kicked off the third phase of human trials of a vaccine against the coronavirus.
The Financial Times (FT) has quoted unnamed sources as saying that the US biotechnology company Moderna plans to price its COVID-19 vaccine at about $50-$60 per course.
The sources claimed that the proposed price for the mRNA-1273 vaccine would apply to the US and “other high-income countries”.
The two-dose course costs at least $11 more than that of the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German counterpart BioNTech, which earlier clinched a deal with the US government on a $39 vaccine.
Reuters, meanwhile, cited an insider as saying on the condition of anonymity that the final price for the Moderna vaccine is yet to be determined as the company reportedly continues discussions with governments about the potential supply of the mRNA-1273 vaccine.
A Moderna spokesperson, in turn, declined to provide any details on pricing “given the confidential nature of the discussions and contracts”.
The developments followed Moderna along with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) starting the third-phase trial, dubbed COVE (Coronavirus Efficacy), of the mRNA-1273 vaccine that will involve about 30,000 US participants.
The trial will take place at around 100 clinical research sites, which Moderna said are “working with their local communities to reach a diverse population” and to ensure that the study is “representative of the communities at highest risk for COVID-19 and of our diverse society”.
The statement was preceded by the company’s announcement that it had received $472 million from the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support mRNA-1273-related research. In April, Moderna received $483 million from BARDA.
In a separate development last week, the US federal government reportedly earmarked a whopping $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with an option to buy up to 500 million more doses at a later date.
Earlier, the US government committed up to $1.2 billion to British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to support its work with Oxford University on developing a coronavirus vaccine.
The developments come as pharmaceutical companies and biotech institutions in countries around the world have been working on about two dozen separate coronavirus vaccines, and have been racing to push through human trials to become the first to get them to market.