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US signs $1.95bn with Pfizer, BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccine

US signs $1.95bn with Pfizer, BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccine

By: Marina Awadallah

Mubasher: The US has been trying to accelerate the development and production of a vaccine for the SARS-COV-2 virus, which caused the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This comes amid the growing number of cases in various states across the US, which reached a total of more than 3.9 million with death cases exceeding 142,000.

On Wednesday, the US agreed with Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech to produce 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for $1.95 billion if the vaccine proves effective in humans, as announced by Pfizer.

As per the agreement signed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, both companies, which are jointly developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine, will provide the US with an additional 500 million doses.

If the candidate vaccine proves its effectiveness in its three-trial phase and receives regulatory approval, Pfizer will distribute the doses to different locations across the US where it will be offered for free.

Previously, the companies announced that they would begin a large trial with up to 30,000 participants later this month upon receiving regulatory approval.

This agreement was part of the US Operation Warp Speed programme, which aims to expedite the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines and deliver 300 million doses in 2021. 

Due to the surge in the number of cases, the US has paid $1.6 billion to Novavax in early July to reach a COVID-19 vaccine and cover its testing, commercialisation, and production in the US.

The Warp Speed programme has supported the biotechnology company to deliver 100 million doses to the US by January 2021.

In March, the US government also invested $456 million in Johnson & Johnson to support its potential vaccine alongside with a $486 million agreement with Moderna in April and $1.2 billion with AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Trying to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, the US has also provided $628 million in support for Emergent Biosolutions in June.