Pressure group Médecins Sans Frontières is calling on drug giants Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline to slash the cost of their pneumococcal vaccines in developing nations to $5 a shot, to help increase its affordability and save more lives.

The pneumococcal vaccine accounts for around 45% of the total cost to vaccinate a child today in the poorest countries, it points out, but warned that some countries might soon have to pay £10 per jab while GSK and Pfizer “have collectively reported over $19 billion in sales globally for the pneumococcal vaccine since its launch”.

The call comes alongside its new report - The Right Shot: Bringing Down Barriers to Affordable and Adapted Vaccines - warning that developing nations are struggling with “skyrocketing vaccine prices amidst market shrouded in secrecy”.

In the poorest countries, the price to vaccinate a child is now a colossal 68 times more expensive than it was in 2001, “with many parts of the world unable to afford new high-priced vaccines like that against pneumococcal disease, which kills about one million children each year,” MSF said. 

“We have an irrational situation where some developing countries like Morocco and Tunisia are paying more for the pneumococcal vaccine than France does,” said Kate Elder, Vaccines Policy Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign. “Because of the astronomical cost of new vaccines, many governments are facing tough choices about which deadly diseases they can afford to protect their children against.”