Massachusetts-based biotech firm Moderna was the first U.S. company to get a coronavirus vaccine ready for human testing, and its CEO said the company would put the vaccine at the same price point as similar existing vaccines.
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"We are highly aware this is a public-health issue, and so we will be very thoughtful about setting a price if this product gets to approval," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Business Insider. "There is no world I think where we would contemplate to price this higher than other respiratory virus vaccines."
Bancel's commitment comes as the U.S. has seen at least 11 deaths from the virus. Other Americans who have contracted the virus or come in contact with infected people have seen their lives thrown into chaos.
The Miami Herald detailed the financial impact on a Florida man who tested negative for coronavirus after returning from China with symptoms. Osmel Martinez Azcue was billed $3,270 after being tested at a hospital. His insurance agreed to pay all but $1,400 of the bill if he provided three years of medical records to prove his illness didn't stem from a preexisting condition.
Moderna's Bancel met with President Trump and health leaders about coronavirus Monday. Moderna's vaccine is waiting for an FDA greenlight and has yet to begin phase one testing — so it's a little early to nail down pricing. Pfizer's Prevnar 13, a vaccine to prevent pneumonia, costs about $800 for four injections, according to Business Insider.
Developing such a vaccine could cost well over a billion dollars and take years, vaccine policy expert Kelly Cappio of Avalere Health told FOX Business.
Cappio pointed out that only a small percentage of the early-stage vaccines making headlines right now will ultimately be approved.
"Vaccine development in general involves ... a high risk of failure. These vaccines can't be developed overnight," Cappio said. "It's important to have a lot of candidates in the early pipeline."