Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel to Appear Against Senate Health Committee Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Price

Moderna Vaccine (Photo: Dado Ruvic)

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel is scheduled to appear before the Senate health committee in March to address concerns regarding the pricing of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine once it enters the private market.

Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the health panel, confirmed on Wednesday that Bancel will testify at a hearing titled: “Taxpayers Paid Billions For It: So Why Would Moderna Consider Quadrupling the Price of the COVID Vaccine?”

Bancel is set to testify at 10 a.m. ET on March 22.

Last month, controversy erupted when Bancel suggested that Moderna could potentially raise the price of its vaccines to between $110 and $130 per dose, a significant increase from the $26 paid by the U.S. government for omicron boosters.

Sanders criticized this proposed price hike in a letter to the CEO, denouncing it as “outrageous.”

In response to the criticism, Moderna announced on Wednesday that it would offer Covid-19 vaccines at no cost to uninsured individuals through its patient assistance program.

“For uninsured or underinsured individuals, Moderna’s patient assistance program will provide COVID-19 vaccines at no cost,” the company stated.

Sanders had previously condemned the price hike plan in his letter to Bancel, particularly objecting to the move given that the vaccine was developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health using taxpayer funds.

“I find your decision particularly offensive given the fact that the vaccine was jointly developed in partnership with scientists from the National Institutes of Health, a U.S. government agency that is funded by U.S. taxpayers,” Sanders wrote.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin)

He expressed concerns that raising vaccine prices would strain the budgets of Medicare and Medicaid, drive up private health insurance premiums, and most severely impact uninsured and underinsured Americans, potentially limiting their access to life-saving vaccines against Covid-19.

“Most significantly, the quadrupling of prices will make the vaccine unavailable for millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans who will not be able to afford it,” Sanders added. “How many of these Americans will die from Covid-19 as a result of limited access to these lifesaving vaccines?”

Since the onset of the pandemic until March 2022, Bancel has reportedly sold over $400 million in company stock, with the Covid vaccine being Moderna’s sole commercially available product.

Since December 2020, the federal government has ensured free Covid vaccines for all Americans regardless of insurance status.

This policy will continue to cover Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance beneficiaries under the Affordable Care Act even after the federal Covid immunization program concludes.

Currently, the U.S. has an excess of 120 million unused omicron boosters. Uninsured individuals will continue to receive these shots free of charge, although the duration of this supply remains uncertain.

Once federal supplies are depleted, uninsured adults may need to pay full price for vaccinations. The White House has announced plans to develop strategies to assist in this scenario.

There exists a federal vaccine program that provides free vaccines for children whose families or caregivers cannot afford them.

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