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Sinovac has not disclosed its price range for coronavirus vaccine doses. Photo: Xinhua

Coronavirus: Chinese vaccine giant quotes higher price for doses

  • Sinopharm chief says two-shot regimen will cost around US$145 and is expected to become available in December
  • Oxford University and AstraZeneca say their candidate will be about US$4 per dose when sold to the government
A Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant with two experimental Covid-19 vaccines in development has priced its doses much higher than its international competitors.
Liu Jingzhen, chairman of China National Pharmaceutical Group, or Sinopharm, was quoted by Shanghai-based Guangming Daily on Tuesday as saying that the price for a two-dose regimen of its inactivated vaccines would cost around 1,000 yuan (US$145) and would be available in December.

It is not clear if Liu was referring to the retail or wholesale price but the figure is so far the highest of those quoted so far.

Some pharmaceutical giants including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have stuck to the traditional non-profit principles for pandemic vaccines and cited a low price for their vaccine candidates. But they are also heavily supported by the US and British governments.

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Other developers including Moderna, Pfizer, and Merck have said that they expect a profit from their products.

So far the cheapest is the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which will cost about US$4 per dose when sold to the government. The experimental vaccine is a front runner in the last stage of clinical trials and the developer has also signed deals with the British and Indian governments.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, reportedly said that the price of the vaccine they produced for the Oxford candidate would be below Rs1,000 (US$13) if sold in India.


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US company Johnson & Johnson is offering its candidates at about US$10 per dose, with an agreement with the US government to provide 100 million doses.

Meanwhile, Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said the company would sell its vaccine for around US$20 per dose, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Pfizer and German pharmaceutical firm BioNTech signed a deal with the US government to supply 100 million doses of their mRNA vaccine candidates for US$1.95 billion. Bourla reportedly said the price for developing countries would be lower.

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Moderna has quoted a relatively high price, reaching agreements with several countries for payments of between US$32 and US$37 per dose for its experimental coronavirus vaccine. It said the higher price was a result of small production.

It is not known if Covid-19 vaccines would be included in China’s mandatory and free immunisation programme or if they would be voluntary injections, with recipients footing the full bill.


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Shanghai-based vaccine expert Tao Lina said he was surprised by Sinopharm’s pricing as it was much more expensive than those in the Western countries.

Tao said the prices indicated that China might not include the vaccines in its free programme.

“I am surprised by the prices. It is the priciest in the world so far,” Tao said.

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“Since the outbreaks have been contained well in mainland China. The need for mass inoculation is not too pressing and it is possible that it might not be included under the free category.”

Sinopharm is developing two inactivated candidates. It is not clear if the price cited by Liu would affect the pricing of two other Chinese front-runners. Developers of another two candidates, CanSino and Sinovac, have not disclosed their proposed price ranges.

If the Chinese vaccines are not included in the free programme, county-level drug regulators would buy the vaccines and make it available on their vaccine lists, but members of the public would have to pay the full price, according to Tao.