Thursday

1st Dec 2022

EU commission keeps vaccine price secret

  • US paying Pfizer and BioNTech €1.64bn for 100 million doses (Photo: Nathan Forget)

The European Commission says it cannot disclose the price of Covid vaccines due to contractual obligations.

The comments were made on Thursday (12 November) by EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The commission is not legally able to disclose information contained in the contracts," she told MEPs in the European Parliament.

The European Commission has, to date, signed signed three advance contracts and will soon sign a fourth with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and BioNTech.

Pfizer and BioNTech will alone be producing some 300 million does for the European Union. By comparison, the US is paying the same firm €1.64bn for 100 million doses.

The commission has also signed contracts with vaccine-makers AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV and is in talks with CureVac and Moderna.

The non-disclosure position was reiterated by chief European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer the same day.

"We cannot tell you what the price of the vaccine is," he told reporters.

But some MEPs, also on Thursday, demanded greater transparency anyway.

Among them was the chair of the European Parliament's environment committee, French liberal MEP Pascal Canfin.

"There is no reason for you to not be able to publish the price of the vaccines," he said.

Canfin had also demanded the commission release information on the profit margins.

"We also want to know where the product is being manufactured," he said.

Swedish socialist MEP Jytte Guteland and German Green MEP Jutta Paulus made similar demands.

"It [transparency] is the only way to create trust," said Paulus.

The complaints followed a concession by Kyriakides to offer limited access to the contracts.

She said the commission was ready to explore making information about the contracts available to some MEPs once negotiations were finalised.

She also revealed that the contracts keep EU liability rules intact, should things go wrong.

"The agreements with the vaccine developers do not change or derogate legislation or rules on liability," she pointed out.

She argued that revealing further details to the public would weaken the commission's negotiating position.

"We need to be extremely careful during these negotiations, so we do not have companies cherry-picking on the best conditions," she said.

The safety and security of the vaccines must first be guaranteed before any release to the wider public, Kyriakides added.

"All member states will have equal access to the available doses at the same time," she said.

EU seeks more health powers after dubious Covid-19 response

After the lack of coordination evidenced during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission put forward a set of proposals to strengthen the preparedness of members states in cross-border health threats.

EU seeks new deal for '90% effective' Covid-19 vaccine

After an experimental Covid-19 vaccine developed by the American giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech was found to be more than 90 percent effective, the EU announced that it will sign a contract for up to 300 million doses.

EU stands by anti-Covid drug, despite WHO doubts

A panel at the World Health Organisation said the antiviral drug remdesivir was 'ineffective' in treating Covid-19. But tens of thousands of doses have already been distributed throughout the EU and a €1bn contract signed with Gilead.

Investigation

EU negotiators defend high Covid vaccine prices paid to pharma

In September 2020, the EU Commission's top vaccine negotiator made a pledge - doses would cost between €5 and €15, Sandra Gallina assured MEPs. Little did she know that her fixed cap would crumble under pressure from jabmakers.

Opinion

How EU banks underwrote the Qatar World Cup

European banks and investors have invested heavily in Qatari sovereign bonds, and construction and hospitality companies — with scant attention to well-documented human rights violations.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  2. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  3. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  4. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  5. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  6. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  7. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  8. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us