A nurse prepares the Pfizer vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccination event at Josephine’s Southern Cooking in Chatham, Illinois, on Dec. 30, 2021.

Brian Casella | Brian Casella Tribune News Service | Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday urged Pfizer, modern and Novavax Pricing the updated COVID-19 vaccine at “reasonable” rates When they launch in the US this fall.

in a letter In a letter to vaccine makers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the price gouging of the new vaccine would capitalize on “the trust the American people have placed in you through your response to COVID-19.”

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None of the three manufacturers disclosed exact pricing for their upcoming single-strain vaccine, which is designed to target the circulating omicron subvariant XBB.1.5.

Pfizer and Moderna said earlier this year that they expected to cost between $110 and $130 per dose, a nearly five-fold increase from the current price of existing vaccines.

The estimate drew criticism from lawmakers, who pointed to the huge profits the companies and their executives have made from the shots during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The price point for the vaccine in the fall will be critical as the federal government is expected to shift distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to the commercial market. That means manufacturers will sell newer vaccines directly to healthcare providers rather than the government.

A spokesperson for Moderna reiterated the company’s previous comments about being ready for the fall with an adequate supply of vaccines.

Meanwhile, a Pfizer spokesperson referred CNBC to a press release issued last month in which it said the company expects to ship immediately in the fall, pending regulatory review and approval.

A Novavax spokesman said the company appreciates its “continuing collaboration and partnership” with the U.S. government and intends to have the new vaccine available by the end of September.

“As we make this transition, we expect businesses to follow the example the U.S. government has set in removing barriers to access for the American public,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said manufacturers are expected to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other payers to ensure they have the information they need to cover the updated vaccines in the fall. The department also advises that manufacturers plan to submit regulatory applications for their respective injectables to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Preparing the materials early will allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make recommendations for the shot by September, HHS said.

Federal and corporate programs are planning to help uninsured Americans cover the out-of-pocket costs of this fall’s updated vaccine.

These include the Biden administration’s HHS Bridge Access program, a temporary initiative that will provide free COVID-19 vaccine shots and treatments to uninsured Americans once those products hit the commercial market.

Pfizer and Moderna also intend to launch patient assistance programs for their COVID-19 vaccines. But there are still open questions about what those efforts will look like.

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