An article published Monday in The Wall Street Journal pointed out that in the likely case that a vaccine candidate is granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it won't be covered by Medicare. This is because the massive aid program does not cover the costs of products with EUAs.
In March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed into law; this guaranteed free-of-charge coronavirus vaccines. But this can only apply to everyone if a vaccine gets standard FDA approval.
As its name suggests, the EUA designation is used as a fast channel for drugs and/or vaccines needed in a crisis situation, such as that presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the typically quick nature of EUA approval, a medicine or vaccine can come to market without the rigorous review standards of a traditional FDA nod.
According to the Journal article, around 44 million people in this country are on Medicare. In 2018, Medicare expenditures consumed 15% of total federal spending.
An unnamed spokeswoman from the government's Department of Health and Human Services said that it is exploring ways for a potential coronavirus vaccine to be covered for patients in need. She added that the vaccine doses purchased by the government will be provided free of charge.
No coronavirus vaccine has yet been approved for widespread use by any major regulator. Several companies, most notably Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), are in late-stage trials with their vaccine candidates. There is no guarantee at this point, however, that Moderna or any of its rivals will be successful in such trials and ultimately win approval.
Most coronavirus vaccine developers fell during the bear market on Monday. Moderna, for one, dipped by 0.9% on the day.