July 23, 2020 -- Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. has signed a $1.95 billion contract with the U.S. government to deliver hundreds of millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine, the company and the US Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday. The goal is to deliver the first 100 million doses by December.
HHS and Pfizer said the vaccine would be free to Americans.
“The vaccine would be available to the American people at no cost,” an HHS news release said. “As is customary with government-purchased vaccines, healthcare professionals could charge insurers for the cost of administering the vaccine.”
The first doses would be delivered in December to locations at the government’s direction if the drug passes Phase 3 clinical trials and receives emergency medical authorization from the FDA, HHS said. The agreement allows the government to acquire up to another 500 million doses, if requested.
In its own news release, Pfizer also confirmed Americans will receive the vaccine for free “consistent with U.S. government’s commitment for free access for COVID-19 vaccines.”
“We made the early decision to begin clinical work and large-scale manufacturing at our own risk to ensure that product would be available immediately if our clinical trials prove successful and an Emergency Use Authorization is granted,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO said. “We are honored to be a part of this effort to provide Americans access to protection from this deadly virus.”
Pfizer is collaborating with BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, to develop the vaccine without US government financial support, the HHS said.
“Through Operation Warp Speed, we are assembling a portfolio of vaccines to increase the odds that the American people will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “Depending on success in clinical trials, today’s agreement will enable the delivery of approximately 100 million doses of vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.”
Pfizer and BioNTech are testing four vaccines that use messenger RNA to convey genetic information to the body's cells. Once mRNA in a vaccine is in the cell, the cells can translate this genetic information to create an immune response.