The United States has reached an agreement with American and German multinational pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech to pay just under $2 billion in exchange for 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, to be delivered if it is successful, with the option or increasing the number of doses up to a total of 600 million if needed.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced their agreement with the United States in a press release published Wednesday morning, revealing that after one of the companies’ vaccine candidates, BNT162, showed signs of viability, they reached the initial agreement for 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Part of the agreement indicates that the United States will not charge its citizens to receive the vaccine.
“The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95 billion upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval,” the press release reveals. “The U.S. government also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.”
“Americans will receive the vaccine for free consistent with U.S. government’s commitment for free access for COVID-19 vaccines.”
The group’s vaccine candidates BNT162b1 and BNT162b2 both received Fast Track designation from the Trump administration’s FDA after data showed “BNT162b1 is able to produce neutralizing antibodies in humans at or above the levels observed in the plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, and this was shown at relatively low dose levels.”
The pharmaceutical companies “expect to be ready” to use the new system created by President Donald Trump’s administration to seek regulatory approval “as early as October 2020.” The press release reveals the companies anticipate manufacturing “up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.”
Pfizer and BioNTech have also “provided an expression of interest” for supplying vaccines to “the COVAX Facility, a mechanism established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,” which was founded by Bill Gates.
Gates recently sparked criticism after suggesting this will not be the last pandemic, and that countries should learn from COVID-19 and respond to the next pandemic on a global level, with experts collecting and distributing information that could then be used to make public policy regardless of international borders.
Gates also suggested that the COVID-19 vaccine must be prioritized for those most at risk, in his view specifically Native Americans and African Americans.
Pfizer and BioNTech are also seeking to work with the World Health Organization, weeks after the United States withdrew its participation in the international health community over criticism of its close relationship with China and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Coalition for Preparedness Innovations.