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US government pays $1.95bn for Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine

Initial order includes 100 million doses

Pfizer

The US government has placed an initial order for 100 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, with the option to acquire up to 500 million additional doses.

The agreement, made with the US Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defence, works in conjunction with the government’s Operation Warp Speed, which is aiming to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.

The initial payment of $1.95bn gives the US access to an initial 100 million doses following the approval of the vaccine by the FDA. According to a statement from the HHS, the vaccine will be made available to Americans at no cost in an effort to contain the virus into next year.

“Through Operation Warp Speed, we are assembling a portfolio of vaccines to increase the odds that the American people will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

“Depending on success in clinical trials, today’s agreement will enable the delivery of approximately 100 million doses of vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech,” he added.

As part of Operation Warp Speed, HHS has already funnelled cash into vaccine candidates being developed by Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University. The Pfizer/BioNTech agreement is the largest sum to be spent to date, as the US government continues to secure early access to the most promising vaccine candidates.

Earlier this month, Pfizer/BioNTech revealed early positive data from two candidates from their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine programme. The data demonstrated that both experimental vaccines were well tolerated and generated dose-dependent immunogenicity.

The early data also suggests that one of these candidates, BNT162b1, is able to produce neutralising antibodies at or above the levels observed in the plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

Vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca/Oxford University and Moderna have also demonstrated the ability to induce neutralising antibodies, a key indicator of efficacy in early vaccine clinical trials.

The US is not the only country securing early doses of a range of vaccine candidates – earlier this week, the UK government also announced that it had forged agreements with Pfizer/BioNTech and French biotech company Valneva.

The UK has also already agreed a deal with AstraZeneca to aid the research, development and manufacture of the vaccine it is developing with Oxford University. As part of that deal, AstraZeneca will manufacture 100 million doses of the vaccine for the UK.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

23rd July 2020

From: Regulatory

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