US buys 100mn additional doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

Washington, Dec 23 (efe-epa).- The United States has reached an agreement with Pfizer Inc. to acquire an additional 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine created by the pharmaceutical giant in partnership with BioNTech, officials said Wednesday.

Delivery is set for the summer of 2021, according to a statement from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to expedite development and distribution of a vaccine against the illness that has already killed nearly 323,000 people in the US.

The deal brings to 200 million the number of doses of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech drug purchased by the government, enough to inoculate 100 million people.

With the vaccine not recommended for children under 16, the potential number of Americans to be inoculated is roughly 270 million, while confirmed cases in the US have topped 18 million.

“Pfizer will deliver at least 70 million doses by June 30, 2021, with the balance of the 100 million doses to be delivered no later than July 31, 2021,” the Warp Speed statement said.

The government will pay $1.95 billion for the second consignment of 100 million doses, Pfizer said.

Under the agreement, the government has an option to buy another 400 million doses of the drug, BNT162b2.

“Securing more doses from Pfizer and BioNTech for delivery in the second quarter of 2021 further expands our supply of doses across the Operation Warp Speed portfolio,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

“This new federal purchase can give Americans even more confidence that we will have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021,” he said.

Besides the supply of BNT162b2, the government has secured 200 million doses of the Moderna vaccine – the only other drug currently approved by US regulators, as well as 300 million doses of the vaccine formulated by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University.

The US likewise has contracts to acquire 100 doses each of vaccine candidates from Sanofi and GSK, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson.

Azar said last week that he was confident the US would end up with “surplus” vaccine, putting Washington in a position to supply doses to other countries.

In a related development, HHS and the Defense Department, which is part of Operation Warp Speed, announced an accord with Merck & Co that will see the government provide support for the advanced development and large-scale manufacturing of the company’s experimental Covid-19 treatment, MK-7110.

“The funding allows for development of MK-7110, including completing activities required to request Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and for delivery of up to 100,000 doses by June 30, 2021,” Merck said in a press release that valued the deal at roughly $356 million.

Merck pointed to data showing that MK-7110 had a positive effect on Covid-19 patients in serious condition, reducing the risk of respiratory failure and death. EFE llb/dr

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