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COVID-19 vaccine should be free in the US, says government

If an experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus is successful, it will be distributed free to Americans, the government of Donald Trump said on Thursday, reiterating that the authorization process will be carried out with the greatest scientific rigor.

“We hope that all Americans will not only have access to a free vaccine distributed in various places, but will not have to pay anything for the supply of the vaccine,” said Paul Mango, a senior official with the Department of Health, during a video conference with journalists. .

Washington has invested more than $ 10 billion in six vaccine projects and has signed contracts that guarantee delivery of hundreds of millions of doses if clinical trials are successful and lead to approval by the US Drug Administration (FDA).

The doses themselves will be paid for by the United States government. The doctors or clinics that will inject the vaccines will have to be paid, but those costs should be largely covered by private insurers and public programs like Medicare, according to Mango.

The official assured that “most” of the private insurers agreed not to charge users.

However, as the US healthcare system is divided between public and private insurers, 100% reimbursement to patients will depend on negotiations between multiple actors.

“We are on track to deliver hundreds of millions of doses by January 2021,” Mango said. This period will be followed by three months to distribute 300 million doses in the country, according to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Collins was “cautiously optimistic” that at least one of the six experimental vaccines will prove to be “safe and effective by the end of the year.”

The question from experts and the Democratic opposition is whether the FDA approval process will rush under pressure from the White House, which aims to deliver the good news ahead of the November elections.

“We have not reduced the regulatory rigor with which we will evaluate and I hope we will authorize the vaccines,” said Mango.

The counterexample is the vaccine approved by Russia this week, even before the start of the last phase of clinical trials, a phase in which tens of thousands of volunteers are injected with the experimental vaccine to verify its efficacy and safety.

“I really doubt” that the Russians have “definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective,” Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease leader, said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Collins compared the Russian decision to give the green light to the Sputnik V vaccine to “Russian roulette.”