The United States Government has placed a $2 billion order for 100 million doses of Pfizer’s potential coronavirus vaccine under the Trump administration’s push to have a shot ready by next year.
Americans would receive Pfizer’s shots for free under the deal announced Wednesday — assuming the vaccine it’s developing with the German biotech firm BioNTech wins federal approval.
“We’ve been committed to making the impossible possible by working tirelessly to develop and produce in record time a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” Dr. Albert Boula, Pfizer’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
The pact is the largest yet awarded under Operation Warp Speed, the government’s effort to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by January. The Trump administration has committed billions of dollars in federal funding to four other companies racing to produce a vaccine, which is viewed as key to ending the deadly global pandemic.
The government would pay Pfizer and BioNTech $1.95 billion once it receives the 100 million doses following Food and Drug Administration approval or authorization of their vaccine, according to a news release. The deal also gives the feds the option to acquire up to 500 million additional doses.
“Expanding Operation Warp Speed’s diverse portfolio by adding a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
BioNTech and Pfizer are working on four experimental COVID-19 vaccines, two of which have received “Fast Track” designation from the FDA to speed up their development. The companies released data earlier this month showing that the most advanced vaccine candidate can produce “neutralizing” COVID-19 antibodies in patients who receive it.
The firms said they expect to seek emergency authorization or some other kind of regulatory approval as soon as October if their ongoing clinical studies are successful.
Wednesday’s announcement came about two weeks after the feds pledged $1.6 billion to help biotech firm Novavax develop its coronavirus vaccine. Operation Warp Speed is also funding vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and a joint effort between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.