Healthcare / Medicare

The Price of Health: A look into COVID-19 vaccine price plans

The Coronavirus pandemic has swept through America, and the rest of the world, at a rapid pace. There could be days, maybe even weeks, spent on speculation as to why this virus has not been controlled. Was it the President’s response? Was it the lack of supplies in health care facilities? Was it the sheer lack of understanding a global pandemic? Any of these questions may provide some insight on where the United States went wrong, however, it is no longer effective to speculate on what could have been done to address the virus. It is now time to move forward and work on and execute a plan to protect the vast majority of the population.

A coronavirus vaccine has been the hot topic in the health policy world for the past several months. During this past week, the week of October 19th, the U.S. saw a surge of nearly 500,000 new cases [I]. This reflects just how quickly the virus is spreading and the urgent need for a treatment or vaccine. There are currently 48 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 88 preclinical vaccines under active investigation in animals [II]. Many vaccine trials have been ended and others are making promising headway. Despite these efforts, the cost of the vaccine that eventually does make it onto the market is not something to be overlooked.

Operation Warp Speed is the Trump administration’s vaccine initiative. This initiative has partnered with pharmaceutical companies who are attempting to make the vaccine as affordable as possible. Moderna, one of the companies leading the race for a safe vaccine, has made deals with other countries to sell the vaccine for $32 to $37 [III]. However, prices in the U.S. are projected to run between $4 and $20, and certain Americans may receive the vaccine at no cost [III].

A policy change, expected to be announced soon, plans to deliver the vaccine for free to older individuals covered by Medicare [IV]. The Trump administration has plans to resolve various legal technicalities that may stand in the way of delivering free vaccines to millions of American seniors. The older population is a high-risk group for COVID-19 and the administration aims to protect this vulnerable population as best as they can [IV].

While the Trump administration hopes to deliver the vaccine free of cost to all Americans, individuals in high-risk groups will receive the vaccine first. These groups include medical personnel, frontline workers and nursing home residents and staff [IV]. There are hopes that a vaccine will be approved by the end of this year, but it is likely that a vaccine will not be available until well into next year.