AstraZeneca Must Prove Claim To Cheapest COVID-19 Vaccine

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BRUSSELS: AstraZeneca must prove its claim that its potential COVID-19 vaccine has the lowest price of the main candidates so far, non-governmental organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Tuesday, urging the company to make public its supply contracts.

The British firm said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.

AstraZeneca has said it will not profit from sales of its vaccine, the price of which has been set at about $3 per dose, against at least four times more for other candidates.

“MSF welcomes AstraZeneca’s commitment to sell the vaccine at a ‘no-profit’ price during the pandemic, but the reality is that it’s an empty promise unless we’re able to substantiate these important claims with data,” said Roz Scourse of medical group MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

The organisation urged AstraZeneca to disclose the contracts signed with governments for its vaccine, under which there could be clauses that limit the price until the company declares the end of the health emergency, which could be as early as July, according to media reports cited by MSF.

“This means that, after July 2021, AstraZeneca could charge governments and other purchasers high prices for a vaccine that was entirely funded by the public,” the organisation said, adding the company had received over $1 billion of public funding for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

AstraZeneca had no immediate comment on the matter.

The company has said a COVID-19 vaccine needs to be available globally and accessible to all who need it, and has expressed its support for a procurement scheme co-led by the World Health Organization designed to secure rapid and fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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