The African Union will pay three times more for Russia’s Sputnik V jab than it pays for the Oxford / AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, according to people familiar with the procurement process.
The $ 9.75 per dose price for 300 million injections of the Russian vaccine, developed by the state Gamaleya Institute, undermines Moscow’s argument that it is offering affordable injections to countries that do not have agreements with Western pharmaceutical groups.
The deals reached by the UA, which is emerging as one of the world’s largest vaccine buyers, provide a rare insight into how jab prices compare, a topic manufacturers have tried to keep out of the limelight. .
“Africa is a key market for Sputnik V,” said the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a Kremlin-run endowment fund that oversees foreign sales of Sputnik V. “Our international price of just under $ 10 per dose is same for all markets “.
Sputnik V recipients require two doses, which means the cost per person is just under $ 20.
RDIF has boasted that the cost of the Russian vaccine is “twice less than that of other vaccines with a similar efficacy rate”, and that its agreements with poorer countries contrast with other manufacturers that have prioritized rich nations .
Kirill Dmitriev, executive director of RDIF, told the Financial Times: “The countries really see, you know, a tremendous double standard from some of the western nations that promised equal access and are basically buying everything for themselves. And they see significant inequality in vaccine distribution to favor wealthy nations. . . It’s downright unethical. “
However, the price of the Russian vaccine, which will not begin to arrive in Africa until May, compares to the $ 3 dose the UA agreed to for the Oxford / AstraZeneca and Novavax jabs made by the Serum Institute of India, according to familiar people. with AU acquisitions.
The UA will pay $ 6.75 per dose for the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine and $ 10 for Johnson & Johnson’s, a single-dose product. You are not purchasing any of Moderna’s two-shot vaccines, priced at $ 32 to $ 37 per dose.
In addition to the 300m doses of Sputnik V, the UA says it has acquired interim orders for 670m doses of other jabs. It is purchasing vaccines on behalf of member states to supplement supplies from Covax, a World Health Organization-backed facility that provides vaccines for free to 92 countries, including many in Africa.
The UA declined to comment on pricing.
RDIF has said that the effectiveness, cost and storage facility of 92% of its vaccine are “unique.” But scientists from the US Food and Drug Administration this week confirmed data showing that J & J’s jab, which can also be stored in a regular refrigerator, prevented serious or critical illness in 86 percent of participants. Americans and 82 percent in South Africa, where the 501 .V2 variant prevailed. Because only one shot of the J&J vaccine is required, at $ 10 it would be almost half the price of Sputnik V.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca puncture was shown to be around 70% effective in clinical trials, while the BioNTech / Pfizer product, which must be stored frozen, was 95% effective.
African governments have been disappointed by the slow arrival of vaccines and, in a few cases, have reached costly side agreements to secure early supplies. South Africa ordered 1.5 million doses of Oxford / AstraZeneca jab to IBS at $ 5.25 a dose, though it later halted the launch after discovering that the injection might not prevent mild and moderate cases caused by the 501 variant. V2 discovered for the first time in the country.
This week, the first AstraZeneca vaccine supplied by Covax arrived in Africa when Ghana received 600,000 doses. Covax said it was paying $ 3 a dose of the jab, made in India.
Covax had originally hoped to distribute 15 million doses of the vaccine to Africa this month, with 40 million more due to arrive in March, although that schedule appears to have slipped. It has committed to providing sufficient doses to inoculate at least 20% of the population in eligible countries by the end of the year.
David Malpass, president of the World Bank, said it was true that manufacturers were diverting supplies to richer countries that paid more. He asked for less secrecy.
“We need transparency of their contracts with Covax and the doses that are available from Covax to developing countries,” he said. “Those will be key to get delivery times.”
African governments can access a $ 2 billion vaccine facility provided by the Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank, as well as funding from the World Bank.
China has supplied few doses to Africa so far, raising questions about possible Chinese supply limitations. This month, Beijing donated 200,000 doses to Zimbabwe, a near-bankrupt country with which it has close but strained relations.
Additional reporting from Sarah Neville in London, Stephanie Findlay in New Delhi, Hannah Kuchler in New York and Joe Miller in Frankfurt.