With the coronavirus pandemic ending in late December, and new estimates out this week estimating the costs at $5 billion and $8 billion, a debate has arisen about how much COVID vaccine will cost and how many doses it will be distributed to the general population.
The most widely cited estimate is that the vaccine will be about $4 billion.
That is roughly equal to the cost of a standard flu shot, the official National Institutes of Health said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The number of doses administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be comparable to flu shots administered to patients,” the statement read.
“The cost of administering the vaccine to people who are not at high risk of catching COVID is expected to be about the same as flu shots.”
However, the CDC’s figure includes a small percentage of people who were not vaccinated in the first two months of the pandemic.
A separate study released in January found that about 10 percent of those who had received the vaccine in late January and early February had not gotten the second dose in the last three months of that period.
Another study, by the Institute of Medicine, which includes experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, also found that there was no correlation between the number of vaccinated and the number who had not received the second shot.
It’s possible that some people who received the first dose but not the second, which was not available in early December, will benefit from the second.
And if they did, the vaccine would cost less than a standard booster shot.
“If the vaccine cost less, it would be a lot more beneficial than if the vaccine was a lot cheaper than the second vaccine,” said Dr. Michael L. Osterholm, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a co-author of the study.
Dr. Osternholm said he believes the vaccine is more expensive than its cost estimate, but he said that was because the CDC relied on estimates from a small group of experts.
In fact, Osterheim said, he and his co-authors used a much broader range of estimates to arrive at their estimate.
The CDC uses a cost-effectiveness analysis that considers several factors, including the vaccine’s cost per dose, the amount of COVID patients are likely to take, the number and severity of side effects and how long it would take for patients to recover from a COVID infection.
Osterholm said the more he learned about the vaccine, the more it appeared to be cost-effective, but there was not a single study that proved it.
He said he was unsure if other experts had reached similar conclusions.
“There’s not a lot of scientific evidence to support this estimate, so it’s difficult to make a statement about how cost-efficient the vaccine really is,” Osterhammer said.
“It’s probably the best estimate we’ve got.
There’s not much evidence to suggest that it’s a poor estimate at all.”
Some experts also questioned whether the CDC could have accurately estimated how many people it would need to reach to cover the cost.
For example, Dr. Steven Nissen, a public health professor at the George Washington University, said the number needed to reach the population of adults who had been vaccinated with the vaccine could have been higher.
The study used a methodology that used information about the age, gender, race and education of people in a sample of 4.5 million people who had a previous COVID exposure.
“That means that if the study was conducted correctly, you could have predicted a much higher number of people,” he said.
If a higher number had been expected, Nissens said, the costs could have increased, too.
“We’re talking about the cost per person in the US who got vaccinated.
That’s a very large number.
It’s not even that high,” he added.
Dr John P. Frieden, the director of the Centers’ National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said he agreed that the costs were too high.
But he said he did not think the CDC used too much information to reach its estimate.
“Our analysis was based on very, very small numbers of people, which is really good news,” Frieden said.
The CDC and the National Institutes for Health are in the process of analyzing data from the CDC and other sources to determine whether the data is representative.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the agency that conducts most of the government-funded research on vaccines, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.