SA may have been offered a 30% discount on the Pfizer vaccine – but that’s still expensive

Business Insider SA
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine - enough for 50 million people.
  • Pfizer has reportedly offered South Africa its coronavirus vaccine at $10 per dose.
  • That number is not confirmed, but would represent a discount of better than 30% on what the European Union is paying for the same thing.
  • Even so, opting for the alternatives from AstraZeneca, and very likely India's Covaxin, would be far cheaper – if SA gets to choose. 
  • For more go to

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner BioNTech has offered South Africa a price of $10 per dose for its coronavirus vaccine, Bloomberg reported on Monday, for what would amount to roughly R300 per person fully vaccinate with the two recommended doses.

A person familiar with talks said the price had been determined based on SA’s status as a middle-income nation, wrote Bloomberg’s Antony Sguazzin, and the fact that the vaccine is being trialled in South Africa was also taken into consideration.

The exact prices of various vaccines are a closely guarded secret, as many nations engage in frantic billion-dollar negotiations with suppliers of limited stock. But at $10, the Pfizer offer would amount to a discount of a little over 30% on the price paid by the European Union, as disclosed in a seeming blunder by Belgium's budget chief in mid-December.

See also | Countries with better vaccine plans than SA now include Morocco, Panama and Lebanon

The reported Pfizer offer, the equivalent of R150 per dose, would be slightly cheaper than the leaked price the EU is paying for the vaccine from Germany's CureVac, at €10.00 or about R180.

But the supposed Pfizer offer would still be more expensive than some of its mainstream corporate competition – and far more expensive than at least one and possibly as many as four alternatives from different parts of the world.

According to the Belgian price leak, the EU will pay the equivalent of around R135 for vaccines from Sanofi/GSK, and R125 for vaccines from Johnson&Johnson.

The EU will pay only R32 for each dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine that just started rolling out in the UK.

See also | UK says it will give 'tens of millions' AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 jabs by end March - here's how

Prices for other vaccines have not been leaked in similar detail from similarly high-ranking sources, but Bharat Biotech from India is expected to offer its Covaxin for roughly R70 per dose, while three vaccines being developed in China, one by Sinovac and two by Sinopharm, are likewise expected to be far cheaper than the early versions from Western pharmaceutical companies.

South Africa has refused to provide details of its talks on vaccine acquisition, and the government has not been clear on exactly how it will fund purchases beyond a promise to tap into the resources of medical schemes.

Neither individual recipients nor countries still negotiating supplies are likely to have any choice in which vaccine they receive, experts have warned, with demand for vaccines projected to handily outstrip supply for another two years or more.

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