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The European Union has been securing COVID-19 vaccines in bulk, on behalf its member states, but the prices have been under wraps—until now, thanks to Belgium’s budget chief.
Eva De Bleeker revealed Thursday how much European countries are paying, via a table she published on Twitter.
The tweet was reportedly made in error by De Bleeker’s communications team in the context of a political argument, and it was quickly deleted, but not before the Dutch-language newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws grabbed a screenshot and put it online.
De Bleeker subsequently insisted that the incident would not endanger Belgium’s access to vaccines, despite fears that she may have broken contractual terms.
Unsurprisingly, AstraZeneca’s vaccine—trial data for which indicates moderate efficacy—seems to be the cheapest, costing EU countries €1.78 ($2.18) per dose. The vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, which has been authorized for use in the U.K. and U.S. and is expected to gain EU approval next week, clocks in at more than 10 times as much: €12 ($14.70) per dose.
Moderna, which is hot on Pfizer’s heels, has the most expensive vaccine of the bunch, at $18 per dose.
Meanwhile, the Dutch-German Curevac vaccine has been secured at €10 ($12.25) a shot, Johnson & Johnson’s will cost $8.50 per dose, and Sanofi/GSK’s will cost €7.56 ($9.26) per dose.
The Commission also said Thursday it had completed exploratory talks with the U.S.’s Novavax about securing at least 100 million doses of its vaccine.
Just through the six deals it has already signed, the EU (population just under 450 million) has gained potential access to almost 2 billion vaccine doses, Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker told Fortune. However, he stressed that none have yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), so “we continue to build our diverse portfolio of different vaccines.”
“We do not give any comments on prices,” he said. “Prices are covered by strict confidentiality clauses that we abide by.”
EU member states await a big decision by the EMA next week. If regulators green-light the COVID vaccines, countries could begin administering inoculations just after Christmas.
The secrecy surrounding the Commission’s negotiations with drugmakers has drawn criticism from many lawmakers and observers.
“National Parliaments and the public should have access to these deals once concluded,” the European Public Health Alliance said in a Thursday statement. “If there is a new round of joint procurement negotiations, transparency should be the starting point.”
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