Based on the contracts made public by the Hungarian government on Thursday, Hungary agreed to pay about USD 36 per one dose of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. That makes the state-owned company’s product currently the world’s most expensive.
According to nytimes.com, Hungary will buy five million doses of the vaccine for a price of EUR 30 per one dose. The relevant contracts were uploaded on the Facebook page of Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office. “The contract is between the Hungarian government and a third-party vendor, and
that price far surpasses what the European Union has agreed to pay for vaccines from Western manufacturers,”
says the American daily.
That is because, based on an EU document cited by Reuters, the European Union pays EUR 15.50 for a Pfizer dose and USD 2.15 for an AstraZeneca vaccine, according to Belgium’s budget secretary.
Interestingly, the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine costs only USD 9.95 per dose.
“The company from which Hungary is buying the [Chinese] vaccine underwent a change in ownership two months before the transaction and was awarded the contract after the government exempted it from having to take part in an open public procurement process,” Miklós Ligeti, legal director for Transparency International Hungary, an anticorruption group working in the country, told The New York Times.
The New York Times says that
such arrangements raise red flags for anticorruption watchdogs,
who warn that the involvement of third parties increases the risk of price gouging. “We don’t know how much this company actually paid for this vaccine,” Mr Ligeti added.
He also told the paper that the registered capital of the company Hungary buys the Sinopharm vaccine from was only EUR 9,000. Even so,
the government signed a contract with a net value of EUR 150 million with them.
Mr Ligeti described this as worrying.
Hungary is among the few European countries which signed a deal with the Chinese Sinopharm company. Furthermore, Budapest already started to inoculate the population with the jabs made by the state-owned company. The New York Times pointed out that even though Hungary promotes itself as a developing country, Budapest buys the expensive Chinese vaccine while “richer nations are hoarding doses by Western drugmakers like Pfizer and Moderna.
A major selling point has been Sinopharm’s manufacturing capacity: It has said it can make up to three billion doses by the end of this year,”
The daily also stated that the Chinese company had not yet published detailed data of the results of the Phase 3 trials concerning their vaccine. “Sinopharm is mass-producing two vaccines. It says that the first, made in conjunction with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, has an efficacy rate of 79 per cent and that the second, made with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, is 72.5 per cent effective,” they added.