The US government has contributed at least $31.9 billion in public funding to the development of mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines, according to a new BMJ study.
That includes at least $337 million in the three decades before the pandemic, wrote seven researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL). More than $29 billion has been used to purchase vaccines.
For co-author and primary care physician Hussain Lalani, the study began as a way to understand the origins of mRNA vaccines and to impress on patients that Covid vaccines weren’t created overnight.
However, the authors are also concerned about the audience’s return on investment. While mRNA vaccine doses cost between $1 and $3 each to manufacture, according to the researchers, Moderna and Pfizer recently announced plans to bill health insurance plans between $110 and $130 per dose.
Moderna recently announced that people won’t need to pay out of pocket for its Covid vaccine, regardless of their insurance status, and Pfizer has previously pledged to offer uninsured US residents free access to its vaccine through the company’s patient assistance program.
“We believe the U.S. government has catalyzed and accelerated the development of these vaccines, and that publicly funded, life-saving technologies should be accessible and affordable to everyone around the world,” Lalani said. Terminal news.
While the researchers collected funding information from NIH, DOD and BARDA databases, Lalani said their estimate was likely hundreds of millions to billions of dollars lower than the amount of government funding actually expenses.
“The part that is a conservative estimate is the pre-pandemic part, from 1985 to 2019,” he said. “We can say this because we discovered that there was about an additional $6 billion in indirect funding that we did not examine in depth. So some of that most likely contributed to the vaccine.
That’s on top of $3.2 billion in venture capital flowing into mRNA programs in 2021, followed by another $2 billion tracked in 2022, according to DealForma’s Chris Dokomajilar.
The news comes about a week after Moderna disclosed in its fourth-quarter results that it had paid the NIH $400 million “related to a catch-up payment” for a patent license it completed in December. The license covered “certain patent rights relating to the stabilization of prefusion coronavirus spike proteins and the resulting stabilized proteins for use in Covid-19 vaccine products or 2P technology,” Chief Financial Officer James Mock said during the announcement. call for results. Moderna found itself embroiled in a dispute with the NIH in 2021 over who invented its life-saving Covid-19 vaccine.
“This is really just the beginning of mRNA technology,” Lalani said. “It’s really important for us to keep in mind that all future uses of this technology will use these building blocks that have been publicly funded and accelerated.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the amount invested in the purchase of vaccines.