US signs $2 billion vaccine deal with Pfizer and BioNTech

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The United States signed a $1.95 billion agreement with US pharma giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech for 100 million doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine, part of an aggressive push to start immunizing Americans early next year.

It is the biggest deal to date under Operation Warp Speed, intended to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of coronavirus vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

Pfizer and BioNTech, which are developing the drug together, said in statements that the American people would receive the future vaccine “for free” in line with the Trump administration’s pledge.

Under the agreement, the US government has placed an initial order for 100 million doses to be delivered if regulatory approval is granted.

The US government also has an option to purchase as many as 500 million additional doses from the two firms.

BioNTech and Pfizer have narrowed their vaccine candidates down to two frontrunners and are waiting for the green light to begin a mass trial involving 30,000 healthy volunteers, which may happen later this month.