Administrator Trump. Pfizer agrees to pay $ 1.95 billion for an additional 100 million doses of vaccine

Extremely close-up photo of fingers holding a small glass jar.
Zoom in / A nurse in the UK has a bottle of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 22, 2020.

The federal government has reached an agreement with doctor Pfizer to provide another 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine before the end of July, the company said today.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the government will pay $ 1.95 billion for additional doses. Of the new vaccine doses, 70 million are due by June 30, with the remaining 30 million to be delivered by July 31 at the latest. The agreement also gives US authorities the option to order up to 400 million additional doses of vaccine later.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said in a statement that the Pfizer supplemental vaccine “can give Americans even more confidence that we will have enough source to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021,” when In addition to the 100 million doses in the US the government has already agreed to buy from Pfizer, as well as the recently approved Moderna vaccine.

The government has also ordered a total of 200 million doses of Modern vaccine, which is still used. Each vaccine requires each person receiving it to receive two doses, so 400 million total doses are enough to immunize about 200 million people.

A rocky road

Pfizer initially offered the extra doses in its first round of talks with the US government in July, The New York Times was the first to report. At that time, the feds agreed to an initial order of 100 million doses, but repeatedly refused to block an order of between 100 million and 500 million additional doses, “despite repeated warnings from Pfizer officials that demand could far exceed supply. ”

When US officials refused to make a commitment, Pfizer instead reached agreements with other nations to sell the vaccines it could manufacture. To reach a new agreement with Pfizer to provide another 100 million doses in the first half of 2021, the government has agreed to invoke the Defense Production Act to give the company access to the specialty supplies it needs to production increases, the New York Times reported.

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine very late, Friday, December 11th. Vaccine shipments to facilities nationwide began almost immediately, and the first immunizations of health workers were underway the next Monday morning.

Shortly after the first wave of vaccines disappeared, however, the distribution hit bumps. More than a dozen states have found that they will receive significantly fewer doses than anticipated – half or less of the expected volume – in the second week of vaccine distribution. States naturally asked the feds, and HHS’s Azar identified the “core issue” as Pfizer’s ability to produce vaccines fast enough around “production challenges.”

However, in a statement, Pfizer pointed the finger directly at the US federal government for snafu.

“Pfizer has no production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine and no shipments containing the vaccine are suspended or delayed,” the company said on December 17th. “This week, we successfully delivered all of the 2.9 million doses we were asked to ship by the US government to their locations. We still have millions of doses in our warehouse, but for now, we have not received any shipping instructions for additional doses. “