Law360 (July 22, 2020, 11:25 AM EDT) -- The U.S. government signed a $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer Inc. for production and delivery of 100 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
The vaccine, which has been in the works since March as part of a collaboration between Pfizer and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, is currently pending emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That authorization will only be granted after the vaccine is shown to be safe and effective in clinical testing, according to the announcement.
"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 in a statement. "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."
Entering into the deal — funded by HHS and the U.S. Department of Defense — before approval puts HHS on track to meet the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed goal of delivering 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, the department said.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced "early positive data" from studies on July 1, and then said on July 13 that the FDA had fast-tracked their efforts.
The drugmakers also noted that the U.S. could purchase up to 500 million additional doses of the vaccine under the terms of the deal.
"We've been committed to making the impossible possible by working tirelessly to develop and produce in record time a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to this global health crisis," Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said in a statement Wednesday.
BioNTech co-founder Dr. Ugur Sahin echoed those comments, saying that the agreement with HHS is "one of many steps towards providing global access" to a vaccine that can tackle COVID-19.
"We are also in advanced discussions with multiple other government bodies and we hope to announce additional supply agreements soon," Sahin said.
--Editing by Katherine Rautenberg.
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