The Trump administration and Pfizer on Wednesday announced an agreement for the pharmaceutical company to provide an additional 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine by the end of July, easing a potential shortage.
The deal, along with orders for another vaccine made by Moderna, means the United States has now secured commitments for doses sufficient to immunize all but about 60 million of the approximately 260 million eligible adult Americans for be vaccinated.
Pfizer had agreed this summer, even before its vaccine proved effective, to provide 100 million initial doses to the United States. Under the new deal, Pfizer will deliver an additional 70 million doses by the end of June and an additional 30 million by the end of July, doubling the deliveries promised in the original contract.
So far, Pfizer and Moderna, the only two producers whose vaccines have been approved for emergency distribution to Americans, have jointly pledged to ship 400 million doses over the next seven months. Both vaccines require two doses.
The U.S. government will pay $ 1.95 billion for the second order, or $ 19.50 per dose, according to a company statement. Pfizer’s vaccine was developed with a German partner, BioNTech.
As part of the deal, the government agreed to invoke the Defense Production Act to help Pfizer gain better access to about nine specialty products it needs to make the vaccine. Under Korean War-era law, the government can secure critical supplies more quickly by prioritizing a contract, forcing suppliers to shift orders from that contractor to the fore.
The government’s promise to release supplies is not mentioned in statements released by Pfizer or the government, but was essential to the deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
As early as September, Pfizer began asking for government help with refueling, according to documents reviewed by the New York Times. By this time, the administration had already given priority status to orders from Moderna and other companies that had worked more closely with it to develop their vaccines, putting Pfizer at a disadvantage. This included two companies – Sanofi and Novavax – which have yet to start large-scale clinical trials in the United States.
A senior Trump administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the internal talks, said the government was unwilling to intervene on Pfizer’s behalf earlier because the company refused to promise that it would use raw materials purchased with government assistance to produce vaccines only. for Americans.
Others familiar with the negotiations said the government feared that Pfizer’s prioritization would compress the supply chain, hampering other vaccine makers the government was supporting through its vaccine development program, called Operation. Warp Speed.
The new deal with Pfizer includes options whereby the government could purchase an additional 400 million doses. But the conditions for exercising these options were not clear. The earlier July contract gave Pfizer the ability to “reasonably” deny a federal government request for more doses.
The administration has been negotiating with Pfizer for more doses for over a month. Among the hurdles were Pfizer’s commitments to other countries that had moved faster than the United States to lock in large orders, according to people familiar with the situation.
Federal officials including Alex M. Azar II, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, have repeatedly said the administration has secured pledges of sufficient doses to cover all Americans who wish to be vaccinated from here June. But even with Pfizer’s new contract, the government is still running out of doses for around 60 million Americans eligible for vaccination.
Lawmakers agreed to a plan to issue stimulus payments of $ 600 and distribute federal unemployment benefit of $ 300 for 11 weeks. You can read more about the bill and what’s in store for you here.
- Will I receive another incentive payment? Adult individuals whose adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax return did not exceed $ 75,000 per year would receive a payment of $ 600, and heads of household earning up to $ 112,500 and a couple (or a person whose spouse is deceased in 2020) earning up to 150,000 get double that amount. If they have dependent children, they would also receive $ 600 for each child. People with incomes just above these levels would receive a partial payment that would decrease by $ 5 for every $ 100 of income.
- When can my payment arrive? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC he expected the first payments to be made before the end of the year. But it will be some time before everyone who qualifies gets their money.
- Does the agreement affect unemployment insurance? Lawmakers have agreed to extend the period during which people can collect unemployment benefits and to restart an additional federal benefit that is provided in addition to the usual state benefit. But instead of $ 600 per week, it would be $ 300. This would last until March 14.
- I’m late on my rent or plan to be soon. Will I receive relief? The deal would provide $ 25 billion for distribution by state and local governments to help tenants who have fallen behind. To receive assistance, households would have to meet several conditions: Household income (for 2020) cannot exceed more than 80% of the median income of the area; at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability; and individuals must be eligible for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship – directly or indirectly – as a result of the pandemic. The accord said aid would be a priority for families with low incomes and who have been unemployed for three months or more.
A third vaccine maker, Johnson & Johnson, is expected to announce the results of its clinical trials next month and could fill a gap. Other vaccine manufacturers participating in Operation Warp Speed could also step in, but have so far experienced significant delays.
During a briefing Wednesday, Moncef Slaoui, one of the leaders of Operation Warp Speed, said Johnson & Johnson’s product looked like “a wonderful vaccine” and could significantly increase the country’s supply. ‘here spring. Instead of a shortage, he said, “the likelihood is that there will be significant redundancy” of doses for Americans in the first half of next year.
According to a document that a European official posted and then deleted on social media, Pfizer struck a deal last month to sell the European Union 200 million doses at a cost of $ 14.50 each. But it is not known if this price is correct. In its two contracts, the United States agreed to pay Pfizer $ 19.50 per dose.
Pfizer simply said its prices were based on volume and delivery dates, and the European Union placed the largest order first.
The Pfizer contracts alone will now cost the government nearly $ 4 billion. On Monday, Congress approved a stimulus package that provided $ 20 billion for the government to buy vaccines.
But in a surprise turnaround on Tuesday night, President Trump spoke out against the bill, hinting that he might not sign it in its current form.