US secures 100mn doses of potential coronavirus vaccine for $1.95bn

US secures 100mn doses of potential coronavirus vaccine for $1.95bn

American multinational pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer Inc and German biotech firm BioNTech will get $1.95 billion from the United States government to make and deliver 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine candidate, the companies said on Wednesday.

The agreement permits the United States government to get an additional 500 million doses, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense said.

The Trump administration has decided to spend billions of dollars for the development and procurement of a potential vaccine. The administration launched ‘Operation Warp Speed’ — a joint HHS and Department of Defense programme— to speed up the development of coronavirus vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.

Over 150 Covid-19 vaccines using a variety of technologies are in various development stages globally, with some two dozen already in human trials. Governments have signed deals with drug manufacturers to secure the supply of various vaccine candidates.

The aim is to make vaccines that can end the Covid-19 pandemic by protecting billions of people from infection or severe illness.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine candidate is among those that are set to be tested in a large trial and the vaccine has shown promise in early-stage small studies in humans.

Pfizer will deliver the coronavirus vaccine doses after the vaccine receives Emergency Use Authorization or licensure from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).  The delivery is subject to completing demonstration of safety and efficacy in a large Phase 3 clinical trial.

The companies said they expect to be prepared to seek some form of regulatory approval as early as October, if the ongoing studies prove successful.

Pfizer and BioNTech presently expect to make up to 100 million doses globally by the end of 2020, and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021, subject to final dose selection from their clinical trial.

Pfizer’s shares rose 4 per cent, while BioNTech’s US-listed shares were up about 6 per cent before the bell.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump warned that the “nasty horrible’” virus will get worse in the country before it gets better.

Data published by John Hopkins University, 14,845,978 people have been confirmed of coronavirus globally. While 615,364 people have been killed due to the virus, the US has recorded the maximum number of deaths.

On Tuesday, the US registered more than 1,000 new fatalities, in a first time since June 10. More than 140,000 Americans have lost their lives in just five months in the US due to coronavirus.