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US to pay Pfizer & BioNTech $2 billion for Covid-19 vaccine

US to pay Pfizer & BioNTech $2 billion for Covid-19 vaccine
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense have announced a $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 100 million doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Germany’s BioNTech and US-based Pfizer are jointly developing four potential vaccines. If one of the vaccines proves safe and effective, 100 million doses would be produced by the end of this year and possibly more than 1.3 billion doses would be produced in 2021. The trial of the vaccine, with human subjects, is scheduled to start later this month and will be subject to regulatory review as early as October 2020. 

Under the agreement, an additional 500 million doses can be acquired by the United States, and US citizens would receive the vaccine for free, said HHS.

“Adding a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech” to the government's Operation Warp Speed inoculation-development program “increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

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Operation Warp Speed aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine by January 2021. The initiative accelerates the development, production and distribution of tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease which has infected four million people in the US, killing over 144,000.

As part of the program, the US government previously announced a $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax to accelerate development of its potential vaccine with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by January 2021. It has also made a $456 million investment in Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate in March, $486 million in support for Moderna’s vaccine in April, and up to $1.2 billion in May for AstraZeneca’s vaccine being developed with Oxford University. The US also awarded Emergent Biosolutions $628 million to expand domestic manufacturing capacity for a potential coronavirus vaccine and drugs.

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