By Tony Winterburn • 18 December 2020 • 20:15
Belgian Minister Angers Manufacturers by Tweeting EU’s Covid Vaccine Price List.
Pharmaceutical companies have complained of a breach in confidentiality after the amount the EU has agreed to pay for leading vaccines was leaked to the public. The unfortunate leak occurred when a Belgian minister inadvertently blew the lid off a highly sensitive commercial secret – the price that the EU has agreed to pay for the leading Covid vaccines.
Belgium’s budget state secretary, Eva De Bleeker, posted the price list on Twitter, with the amounts of each vaccine that her country intends to buy from the EU. Even though the tweet was quickly deleted it was not soon enough to prevent interested parties taking screenshots- it has already been revealed that Belgium is buying more than 33m vaccines for a total of €279m (£253).
While access-to-medicines campaigners were delighted at the transparency, pharmaceutical companies were definitely NOT! and Pfizer immediately complained of a breach of confidentiality. “These prices are covered by a confidentiality clause in the contract with the European Commission,” said Elisabeth Schraepen, the US drugmaker’s spokeswoman for the Benelux region to the Belgian daily Le Soir.
The price list revealed that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the cheapest and Moderna is the most expensive, something most people knew. However, the details allow countries that may be negotiating with the vaccine manufacturers to take a harder line. Drug and vaccine prices have always been very closely guarded commercial secrets- but this is the list of what the EU is paying for the vaccines:
Oxford/AstraZeneca: €1.78- Johnson & Johnson: €7.00- Sanofi/GSK: €7.56- Pfizer/BioNTech: €12- CureVac: €10- Moderna: €14.70
“We can’t say anything about this case, everything about vaccines and prices are covered by confidentiality clauses, in the interests of society and also in the interests of negotiations ongoing,” said a spokesman for the EU commission at a news briefing.
The UK, which is not part of the EY scheme, has secured 357m doses of various vaccines, including 40m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech which was authorised for use in the UK before the rest of the world. There will now be speculation in the UK and other countries as to whether their governments could have got a better deal with lower prices for their citizens.
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