Russia & West Trade Blame For Vaccine ‘Price Gouging’ & Exploitation Of Africa


Westerners bringing ‘benefits’ to the African continent has long been met with deep suspicion and even hostility from local Africans, given the colonial legacy stemming especially from the 19th century ‘scramble for Africa’ period, and further a Cold War-dominated 20th century which witnessed CIA regime change and coup efforts in places like Congo, Ghana and Angola – in order to prevent left-leaning popular movements from turning to the Soviets. Africa was one of the major global hotspots in which Washington and the Kremlin quietly engaged in intense but quiet subterfuge against the other, which simultaneously involved a public propaganda war accusing the other of ravaging and exploiting Africa.

And now a new ‘Cold War’ of sorts is beginning to play out on the vaccine front, with Financial Times in a bombshell investigation revealing this week the emerging issue of massive disparities in vaccine prices and availability – again in what’s taking the form of competition between Russia and the West. This time it’s Russia standing accused of exploitation and manipulation on the continent.

“The African Union will pay three times more for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine than it is paying for the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, according to people familiar with the procurement process,” FT writes

Via EPA

Russia has long touted that as the “first” country in the world to successfully roll out a mass vaccination campaign of its citizens, while marketing it to various countries in need as a better effective ‘alternative’ to American-developed vaccines, it’s jab is also the most affordable. In response, Western officials have quietly grumbled over alleged Russian ‘dirty tricks’ to push Sputnik V to reach various global markets first. 

But FT finds that “The $9.75 price per dose for 300 million doses of the Russian vaccine, developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute, undermines Moscow’s argument that it is offering affordable vaccinations to countries priced out of deals with Western pharmaceutical groups.” Further as Sputnik V requires two doses, at this price it’s about $20 per individual – a whopping fee in many impoverished African countries. 

Meanwhile competing doses that the AU already has contracts for, such as the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, cost a mere $3 per dose by comparison.

A statement from the Russian Direct Investment Fund which is overseeing Sputnik V’s foreign sales said the price is “the same for all markets.” An official statement rejected the allegations of vastly higher prices for Africa:

RDIF has boasted that the Russian vaccine’s cost is “two times lower than that of other vaccines with similar efficacy rate,” and that it deals with poorer countries stand in contrast to those of other manufacturers, who have prioritized wealthy nations.

Kirill Dmitriev, RDIF’s chief executive, told the Financial Times: “Countries really see, you know, tremendous double standards from some of the Western nations who promised equal access and basically are just buying everything for themselves. And they see significant inequity in vaccine distribution to favor wealthy nations. … It’s frankly unethical.”

The African Union itself has not commented on the pricing or any disparity in terms of deals it’s made. However, it has not purchased any of the Moderna vaccine, which is among the world’s most expensive – between $32 and $37 per dose.

Further FT notes that “The AU will pay $6.75 a dose for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine and $10 for Johnson & Johnson’s, a single-dose product.”



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