Moderna package likely below B3,000

Moderna package likely below B3,000

Private hospitals agree on standard price including service fee, insurance and VAT; Sinopharm next on list

A healthcare worker holds a vial of Moderna vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in New York City on Jan 29. (Reuters Photo)
A healthcare worker holds a vial of Moderna vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in New York City on Jan 29. (Reuters Photo)

The price for a package of two shots of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine offered by private hospitals will be no more than 3,000 baht, hospital executives say.

The Private Hospital Association announced the plan after a meeting on Thursday to discuss a common approach to offering alternative vaccines. Moderna is likely to be the first brand to be ordered by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) on their behalf.

Private hospitals have started surveying the demand for the vaccine. Once they get an estimated number, they will ask the GPO to buy it for them, Dr Chalerm Harnphanich, chairman of the association, said after the online meeting.

All member hospitals agreed to offer the package at the same price, estimated at not more than 3,000 baht, including service fee, insurance and value-added tax, said Dr Chalerm, also chairman and CEO of SET-listed Bangkok Chain Hospital Plc. 

He said the Moderna vaccine cost $37 to $38 (1,200 baht) a dose. Two doses are required.

The hospitals are also working with the General Insurance Association and the Office of the Insurance Commission on coverage in case of side effects or allergies.

The premiums are likely to be 50-100 baht for the coverage of 90-100 days after the first shot.

If side effects are serious and required hospitalisation, the insured will be compensated with 100,000 baht or 1 million in case of death.

Dr Chalerm was not sure about the arrival time of the vaccine but assured there would be no delay. 

“As soon as the Food and Drug Administration approves it and we receive the products, we will distribute them to over 400 [private] hospitals nationwide as soon as possible,” he added. The FDA is expected to approve the vaccine this month.

GPO director Dr Vitoon Danwiboon said Covid vaccine would be on the Commerce Ministry’s price control list.

He added GPO had to act as the intermediary due to restrictions on the emergency use of Covid vaccines, which require vaccine manufacturers to deal only with the government.

Dr Chalerm said interested people must register with the Mor Prom Line Official Account or app to centralise population data.

“If you are not sure whether you should get the shots provided by the government or private hospitals, we advise you to get the free shots by the government given the situation today,” he said.

As of Saturday, however, there was no option for people to choose to be vaccinated by private hospitals through the channel.

Dr Chalerm also said vaccine bookings by private hospitals could not be done now. “Since no alternative vaccines have arrived in Thailand, a private hospital cannot legally open registration for them,” he said.

Last year, a hospital was fined by the FDA for breaking its advertising law when it invited people to register to get a shot. The FDA said advertising any product or service that one doesn’t have in hand was illegal.

Apart from Moderna, private hospitals are looking at Sinopharm, a Chinese-made vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation on Friday.

Since Sinopharm is a “dead virus” vaccine, Dr Charlerm said private hospitals could order it directly from an importer but had to ask the GPO to register it first. They could not import it by themselves since they don’t have licences to import biological products.

Private hospitals nationwide will help the government administer free vaccines under the Mor Prom programme. The vaccines used by the government are made by AstraZeneca (AZD1222), Sinovac Biotech (CoronaVac), Pfizer (Comirnaty), Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and Russia’s Gamaleya (Sputnik V).

Because of this, they are not allowed to commercially vaccinate people using these five vaccines due to conflict of interests, according to sources.

Slow bookings

The government opened registration for free vaccine last Saturday, targeting 16 million people — 11.7 million aged 60 or more and 4.3 million with the following conditions: severe respiratory disease, heart and arterial disease, chronic kidney failure, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

A week later, only 1.55 million people registered — 1.25 million through the Mor Prom Line official account and app and 296,000 through hospitals and village volunteers, according to the Public Health Ministry data at 4pm on Saturday.

Vaccination will begin in June and the shots administered will be AstraZeneca made by the local company Siam Bioscience Co.

Authorities said on Friday the National Communicable Disease Committee had approved the use of Sinovac shots on people aged 60 or more, citing a “clearer study” in China.

The administration of the vaccine in the age group will begin in Covid-hit areas after the Food and Drug Administration changed its regulations accordingly.

Earlier, the vaccine was not used on people in the age group because the clinical trial in China did not include them. 

Sinovac has not been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. The WHO had previously only approved the vaccines made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

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