As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread, demand keeps growing for effective treatments and vaccines. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), one of the only companies with a vaccine in clinical trials for SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes the disease), made news Wednesday when its CEO said that his company's vaccine would be affordably priced.
Stephane Bancel said in an interview with Business Insider that he plans to price the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, in line with other vaccines for respiratory infections. Although he didn't offer an exact figure, one can look to prices for other vaccines, such as a pneumonia treatment, Prevnar 13 which has an average cost of around $240, to get a rough idea of what Bancel might be thinking.
"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. There is no world I think where we would contemplate to price this higher than other respiratory virus vaccines," said Bancel.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses shot past 95,000 on Wednesday. While the growth rate of cases in mainland China appears to have slowed down, the numbers in countries such as South Korea, Italy, and Iran have surged in the past week.
The only other healthcare company with a COVID-19 treatment at the clinical-trial stage is Gilead Sciences. Resmdesivir, which was developed as an Ebola drug (and was insufficiently effective in that indication) has shown promise in terms of reducing symptoms in patients with COVID-19. Although it's unclear whether remdesivir will have any value as a preventative treatment, demand for the drug will likely be strong nonetheless.