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How Much Will Coronavirus Vaccines Cost the US Taxpayer?



conceptual vial of coronavirus or covid-19 vaccine on a stack of US one hundred dollar bills next to a syringe and more banknotes-Coronavirus Vaccines Cost-ss-featured

How much will coronavirus vaccines cost? With pharmaceutical companies announcing successful results, it’s a matter of time before they get approval. Depending on how soon can companies fill-in orders, everybody will soon start receiving their Covid-19 shot.

RELATED: US Coronavirus Cases Hit 11 Million as Holidays Approach

The good news is, the federal government already pre-bought some of the known vaccine brands even before approval. They will pick up the tab and make the vaccines free to all Americans. Of course, we’re talking taxpayer money here, so it’s not really free. So, how much will each vaccine eventually cost the US taxpayer?

We’ll outline four of the top frontline vaccine candidates and break down how much they cost. But first, we’ll describe the program that brought them all together: Operation Warp Speed.

Operation Warp Speed

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is a public-private partnership started by the U.S. government in April 2020. Its aim is to help with the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, OWS will also assist in therapeutics and diagnostics. According to Health and Human Services (HHS), OWS's goal is to receive 300 million doses. The federal government should receive initial stocks by January 2021.

OWS selected some of the most promising vaccine candidates. They offered government support, research funding, and pre-purchase commitments. This hopes to fast-track development without sacrificing safety and efficacy. OWS has a budget of $10 billion. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) can provide added funding. 


Moderna Inc recently reported 94.5% effectiveness in preventing coronavirus. Their late-stage trial covered 30,000 trial subjects. An effective dose consists of two injections four weeks apart. The company foresees filing for emergency use authorization later this month. If everything goes according to schedule, initial doses may be available by mid-December. 

Last April, OWS gave $483 million in support available for Moderna's candidate vaccine. This is in support of Phase 1 trials last March 16 and received a fast-track designation from FDA. On July 26, OWS approved an additional $472 million for late-stage clinical development. Then, the firm signed a $1.5 billion contract to supply the US with 100 million doses. Moderna estimated that the cost per patient for two doses is at $50, or $25 per dose.


Pfizer and BioNTech reported 90% effective rates for the vaccine candidate last week. Similar to Moderna, a vaccine package requires two doses 21 days apart. Unlike Moderna's, Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate requires a storage temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, it will require special storage equipment and transportation.

HHS announced on July 22 that they have signed Pfizer and BioNTech to a $1.95 billion contract. This contract is for advanced orders and did not support research efforts. In turn, the US will receive 100 million doses of their vaccine upon FDA approval. Costs per vaccine are $19.50 per dose or $39 per patient.


AstraZeneca partnered with the University of Oxford to produce a candidate vaccine. This is currently undergoing late-stage trials. The trial expects to deliver its results by the end of 2020.

Early data shows the vaccine gave a similar immune response in older and younger adults. In addition, there were lower incidences of adverse responses among the elderly.

The United States forged a deal with the partnership to purchase 300 million doses in May 2020. AstraZeneca and Oxford will receive up to $1.2 billion in funding vaccine development. The US will also receive 300 million doses United States. According to the Financial Times, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine costs between $3 to $4.  AstraZeneca committed that they will not profit from the vaccine “during the pandemic.” But, they hold the option to change prices by July next year.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine program features a single dose instead of two. The candidate vaccine is still undergoing single-dose clinical trials. If successful, Johnson & Johnson will have an edge over its rivals. They will become the only ones offering a single-dose vaccine. However, the company is also conducting trials that use two doses.

The vaccine requires basic refrigeration for storage. Estimates place the cost around $14.50 a dose. OWS agreed to pay the company over $1 billion for 100 million doses. Before the order, the HHS gave $456 million to Johnson & Johnson for use in its development last March.

By September, the United States locked up 800 million pre-orders for coronavirus vaccines and over $10 billion in deals. This is 500 more than their original target. Then, the US also holds options on more than 1.6 billion doses. But considering that America still suffers from the pandemic, this move might pay off.

Watch this as The Wall Street Journal reports on how much will the Covid-19 vaccine cost?

Is it a smart move by the government to launch Operation Warp Speed and secure pre-orders for coronavirus vaccines prior to FDA approval?

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Do you agree with the government’s play to pre-order vaccines so Americans can be first in line when they get approvals? Which company do you think will cross the finish line first? Let us know what you think of vaccines and the coronavirus pandemic in general by commenting below.

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