Coronavirus Drug Could Cost 750% More Than a Flu Shot

  • A potential coronavirus treatment developed by Gilead Sciences won’t come cheap.
  • The resource-constrained developing world would be especially hard hit if the respiratory illness gets out of control.
  • Biotech stocks have enjoyed a rally in the wake of the outbreak.

Coronavirus has been, rightly or wrongly, compared to the flu based on a similar set of symptoms. President Donald Trump even reportedly enquired from a biotech CEO whether a flu shot could work as a COVID-19 vaccine.

Well, no.

And not only is a confirmed cure and a vaccine for COVID-19 not yet available, but it is likely to be prohibitively expensive when it arrives. At least if recent estimates are anything to go by.

Coronavirus drugs won’t come cheap

According to a Wall Street firm, one of the potential drugs for the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus could cost up to 750% more than flu treatments.

Per Oppenheimer analyst Hartaj Singh, the coronavirus drug being tested by biotech firm Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) could cost between $50 and $100 a patient.

That’s substantially higher than the typical cost of an influenza vaccine, which ranges between $11.67 and $18.19 based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention price list.

Flu vaccines typically cost less than $20 per person. | Source: CDC

That means a coronavirus drug could be more than 750% more expensive than the cheapest flu vaccine.

Can the world afford Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir?

If the ongoing clinical trials of remdesivir are successful and the pricing estimates are correct, the government funds allocated to fighting the coronavirus outbreak would be highly inadequate.

That would be even more obvious if the outbreak reaches pandemic proportions and a need for a mass vaccine or cure emerged.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided $50 billion to low-income and emerging market countries to assist in fighting the outbreak. But at a theoretical price of $100 per dose, the funds would only be enough to…

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