The small price of freedom

This post from Robert MacCulloch about what countries paid for the two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) is interesting given that Australia hasn’t had any luck procuring either in a timely manner:

“The BMJ reports that the US offered $19.50 and the EU $14.70, so I suspect NZ offered in this price range. In other words, had we simply offered $4.00 more per dose than the US then it appears that we could have secured a hugely increased schedule of deliveries, enough to have vaccinated most of our population by now, like Israel.”

The cost of lockdown is significantly higher than the cost of vaccinating a country (the report cited above estimates that “vaccinating the entire population of Israel costs the economy only as much as two days of lockdown”). Why didn’t Australia — which shunned Pfizer’s offer back in mid-2020 — just offer a bit more per dose when it eventually got around to ordering some at the end of 2020?

The cynic in me suspects that bureaucrats and politicians were more afraid of the public finding out they overpaid AND made an ordering error, rather than just the error, even if it ultimately costs the country a much higher but unquantifiable amount via closed borders and lockdowns.

As to why the government turned down Pfizer’s offer in mid-2020, I can only speculate that they wanted to boast about how they saved us and secured “local jobs”, given the two horses they backed (AstraZeneca and the University of Queensland’s failed candidate) both had local manufacturing capacity.