Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced on Wednesday that the Trump administration will pay pharmaceutical giant Pfizer $2 billion for the December delivery of 100 million doses of a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infections.
“Now those would, of course, have to be safe and effective” and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Azar said in an appearance on Fox News, adding that the U.S. could buy an additional 500 million doses under the agreement.
The Associated Press (AP) reported on the plan:
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced separately that the agreement is with HHS and the Defense Department for a vaccine candidate the companies are developing jointly. It is the latest in a series of similar agreements with other vaccine companies.
The agreement is part of President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, under which multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being developed simultaneously. The program aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.
Under the initiative, the government will speed development and buy vaccines — before they are deemed safe and effective — so that the medication can be in hand and quickly distributed once the FDA approves or authorizes its emergency use after clinical trials. Pfizer and BioNTech said the U.S. will pay $1.95 billion upon receipt of the first 100 million doses it produces, following FDA authorization or approval.
AP reported that the companies said Americans will be able to get the vaccine for free.
Azar said in the AP report the the contract “brings to five the number of potential coronavirus vaccines that are under development with U.S. funding.”
At his resurrected daily coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump said, “The vaccines are coming, and they’re coming a lot sooner than anyone thought possible, by years.”
“As early as next week, a vaccine created by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. is set to begin final-stage testing in a study of 30,000 people to see if it really is safe and effective,” AP reported. “A few other vaccines have begun smaller late-stage studies in other countries, and in the U.S. a series of huge studies are planned to begin each month through fall in hopes of, eventually, having several vaccines to use.”
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