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Operation Warp Speed Counts a Vaccine Win

Government will pay $1.95B for 100M doses, expected by year's end
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2020 10:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US has inked a deal that will have the country receiving the first 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine candidate in the works from Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech SE. The government could nab an additional 500 million doses under the agreement, which will see the US pay $1.95 billion when the doses are approved and received, reports Bloomberg. The 100 million doses are expected by the end of 2020. The companies say 1.3 billion doses should be ready by the end of 2021. The price tag works out to about $20 per dose. "We believe this sets the top price for a vaccine, with lower prices elsewhere," says Bloomberg analyst Sam Fazeli, who notes repeated doses might be needed. The vaccine is to be made available to the American public for free.

Pfizer and BioNTech are currently developing four possible vaccines, the most advanced of which is BNT162b1, per CNBC. It was shown to produce neutralizing antibodies in a small, early-stage trial. A larger trial with 30,000 participants is to begin later this month. If all goes well, the companies expect to seek regulatory approval as soon as October, reports the Globe and Mail. But this is only one effort by the US to get its hands on a vaccine. "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," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says, per CNBC. The government also has a $1.6 billion deal with Novavax for 100 million doses by January. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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