The US government will pay $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to vaccinate 50 million people if clinical trials prove the two companies’ vaccines are safe and effective, Pfizer and Germany’s Biotechnologies confirmed Wednesday.
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This is the largest advance order for coVID-19 vaccine ever placed by the US government, Reuters reported.
In pre-clinical trials of the vaccine, two doses are required, which means the cost per person is $39.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has previously said that if clinical trials of coVID-19 are successful, Americans will receive the vaccine free of charge, though health insurance may have to pay for it.
In addition to the 100 million doses, the U.S. government could buy an additional 500 million doses under an agreement with the two companies, at a different price if ordered.
A Pfizer spokesman said the companies won’t receive a penny from the U.S. government unless large-scale clinical trials of the vaccine are successful and production can proceed smoothly.
Pfizer CHIEF Executive Albert Blaer had previously said that companies would speed up vaccine development without government funding.
In addition to Pfizer and Germany’s Biotechnologies, Merck of the United States, Astrazeneca of the United Kingdom and Novavax of the United States have signed deals to receive funding for vaccine development.
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More than 600,000 coVID-19 deaths have been reported globally so far, and more than 150 vaccines are under development.
Pfizer and Germany’s Biotechnologies, which developed the vaccine to stimulate an immune response in small preliminary human trials, plan to start final large-scale clinical trials as early as next week to vaccinate up to 30,000 volunteers.
Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said: “We have started the vaccine reagent distribution process, which will be sent to different clinical trial sites in the United States and elsewhere.”
Pfizer said it would release the vaccine as early as October if it is proven safe and effective by the end of phase III trials and if it receives U.S. approval or emergency use authorization.
With regard to the capacity of the novel coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer and Germany’s Biotec expect to produce up to 100 million doses globally by the end of 2020, with potential capacity of more than 1.3 billion doses globally by 2021.
Two pharmaceutical companies agreed on Tuesday to supply 30 million doses of vaccine to the UK at an undisclosed price.