Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) reached an agreement with the US government to supply 100 million doses of a vaccine the company is developing in partnership with BioNTech SE – ADR. In the agreement, the US government has paid $2 billion to the company to have it deliver the vaccine by December. This is according to health and human services (HHS) secretary, Alex Azar.
Fast-tracking hunt for vaccine
Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, but the US is offering financial support for five vaccine candidates. The move is part of the company’s plan to fast-track the vaccine’s production if one is approved. Under the agreement, the US government will buy an additional 500 million doses.
The deal was unveiled by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, as part of the Trump administration’s push to have the vaccine as early as possible. Dubbed Operation Warp Speed, the program is a public-private partnership to push for development, testing, and production of the vaccine. The program’s main objective is to have the vaccine by January 2021.
Pfizer has partnered with BioNTech, a German company, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The companies started clinical trials in April with Pfizer recently announcing positive results. More than 100 companies are involved in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, but only a few have started human testing.
Operation Warp Speed program
Currently, there are seven companies enrolled under the Operation Warp Speed program. Already five companies involved in the hunt for the virus have received contracts from the government. Many are leading players in the pharmaceutical industry including Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), and AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN)
Another line of funding for the vaccine comes from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a section of the Department of Health and Human Services. Operation Warp Speed is led by Moncef Slaoui, a former chairman for vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline, made up of officials from the FDA and the Department of Defense, among other government agencies.