In the year 2021 and beyond, governments around the world will have to choose which Covid-19 vaccine to endorse and use for its citizens. For governments, the decision will be primarily cost to them (nothing is really free) vis-à-vis how effective it is. Some of the vaccines are simply not as effective or require two doses and extra handling and storage. All of these aspects will come into play as to what vaccine a country will use. But, even so, many countries will opt to have several vaccines available to citizens to choose from at a cost.
Nothing is free and the companies making the vaccine have spent millions developing them with government support to defray costs. Even still, these companies will make a profit as governments buy them costing the government millions of dollars.
How Many Vaccines?
The current count is around seven:
- Astra-Zeneca (US)
- Pfizer (US)
- Sputnik (Russian)
- Moderna (US)
- Sinovac (Chinese)
- Gamaleya (India)
There are a few more coming as trials end and their effectiveness is determined. So far, the best have been those made in the USA. It would seem that in some countries only the vaccine made locally will be used (such as the Russian, Chinese vaccines) but that is not entirely true. Many Asian countries will offer any of them, as in the case of the Philippines, which has budgeted millions of dollars in their procurement for use in March 2021.
The Consumer Cost
While the cost is free in some countries, even in the USA, this may not be totally true. Rumors are that the shot of some vaccines is around $10 up to $35. Maybe, initially, the cost is free for some with certain health plans. But in other parts of the world, citizens will have to pay for the vaccine and will no doubt select the cheapest and most likely less effective.
As an example, in the Philippines, the following are the costs in US dollars:
- Astra Zeneca $13 (P610)
- Novamax $7 (P366)
- Pfizer $50 (P2380)
- Moderna $83 (P4000)
- Sinovac $77 (P3629)
- Gamaleya $5 (P220)
Some of the above costs may seem cheap, but when the average Filipino earns just $8-12 (P400-500) a day (not per hour) for an eight hour shift, you easily see that how the best vaccines may not be selected due to costs. A full week's work would be required to get the Pfizer vaccine.
The problem is if the cheaper vaccines are only 75% effective (Pfizer is 95%) or worse and most of a population elects to get them, then the virus will still be an issue in that country. If it is still a problem, then, its a problem for other countries whose citizens travel to other countries using the more effective vaccines.
How all this will actually pan out remains to be seen but expect to continue wearing the mask for much of 2021.