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Is a ‘no profit’ COVID-19 vaccine too good to be true?

Some drugmakers have pledged not to take a profit from sales of COVID-19 vaccines. However, they have not defined what ‘no profit’ means. Nor do we know how long that pledge will last.

Politico reports that these unknowns are feeding doubts in Congress, whose members want to know who will pay for the large price tag these vaccines could carry.

Some lawmakers want vaccine companies to at least guarantee that there won’t be excessive profits, and that ordinary people won’t be responsible for the cost. The U.S. government has already spent $4 billion to speed up development of a vaccine, so lawmakers don’t want a high price tag to be an obstacle for people getting the vaccine when it’s available.

“The federal government is taking a large financial risk right now to ensure that a vaccine is ready to be distributed at no cost to Americans once proven safe and effective,” Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), who serves on a House oversight panel that will hear from five vaccine-makers next week, wrote in an email to Politico.

Currently there is no information on how much a vaccine will cost, or how much money it will take for governments to purchase enough doses to halt the pandemic.

“A drug company’s claim that it’s providing a vaccine at-cost should be viewed with the same skepticism as that by a used car salesperson,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a leading critic of the industry in Congress, told Politico in an email.

Do you think drug companies will be true to their word and sell COVID-19 vaccines without making a profit? Share your thoughts with Voices for Affordable Health.