Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to pay al­most $2B for 100M doses


WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will pay Pfizer nearly $2 bil­lion for a De­cem­ber de­liv­ery of 100 mil­lion doses of a COVID-19 vac­cine the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany is de­vel­op­ing, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Alex Azar an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

The U.S. could buy an­other 500 mil­lion doses un­der the agree­ment, Azar said.

“Now those would, of course, have to be safe and ef­fec­tive” and ap­proved by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Azar said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on Fox News.

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.

Trump, dur­ing a Wed­nes­day brief­ing, de­scribed the agree­ment as “his­toric.’’

“We think we have a win­ner there. We also think we have other com­pa­nies right be­hind that are do­ing very well in the vac­cines, long ahead of sched­ule,” he told re­porters.

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.

Amer­i­cans will re­ceive the vac­cine for free, the com­pa­nies said.

Azar said the con­tract brings to five the num­ber of po­ten­tial coro­n­avirus vac­cines that are un­der de­vel­op­ment with U.S. fund­ing. Nearly two dozen are in var­i­ous stages of hu­man test­ing around the world, with sev­eral en­ter­ing fi­nal test to prove if they re­ally work.

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. 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.

Pfizer is fin­ish­ing an ear­lier stage of test­ing to de­ter­mine which of four pos­si­ble can­di­dates to try in a larger, fi­nal study.


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