Azar: US funded COVID vaccines will be free or affordable

Posted at 11:25 PM, Jul 22, 2020

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a CNBC interview on Wednesday that government-funded coronavirus vaccines would be provided for free or at an affordable cost for the American public.

Azar’s declaration comes as the government announced on Wednesday an agreement with Pfizer valued at $1.95 billion. An agreement stipulates that Pfizer would produce 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for the US government to distribute as soon as one is ready.

President Donald Trump added on Wednesday that after an initial 100 million doses are distributed, another 500 million doses would be received by the US government soon thereafter.

“Hopefully, the approval process will go very quickly,” Trump said about getting the initial batch of 100 million vaccines. “And we think we have a winner there. We also think we have other companies right behind that are doing very well on the vaccines — long ahead of schedule.”

But questions on who would get the vaccine remains a question. But the government vowed Wednesday that vaccines would be affordable.

"We will ensure that any vaccine that we're involved in sponsoring is either free to the American people or is affordable," Azar said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that he is encouraged by multiple vaccine candidates, and believes that things are still on track for a vaccine to be ready for production around the end of 2020 or start of 2021.

“I think the timetable that we have discussed now over the past several months, luckily and fortunately, has really worked out OK,” Fauci said. “The results of several of the phase one trials of different candidates, not only one -- I'm reluctant to point out one that's going to be better than the other, because the proof of the pudding is whether it actually works in the field and is a safe and effective vaccine.”