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Trump administration passed on chance to further secure Pfizer vaccine

The federal contract signed in July called for Pfizer to deliver 100 million doses by March at a cost of $ 19.50 per dose. It gave the government the ability to request an additional 100 to 500 million doses. It was one of six contracts the Trump administration signed with vaccine makers in a strategy to hedge its bets and maximize the chances of success.

Accounts differ on the nature of discussions between Pfizer and federal officials over whether to lock in additional doses. Several people have said that in late summer or early fall, Pfizer officials repeatedly warned the Trump administration that demand could far exceed supply and urged it to pre-order more doses, but were refused.

A senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on Monday on condition of anonymity, said that any company offering hundreds of millions of doses before they had proof their vaccine worked “was not going to be right. just not get the government money ”.

Another person close to the negotiations said discussions about possible additional doses began in early October. Michael Pratt, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, declined to comment on the discussions, but said “an important part of any negotiation is setting deadlines for delivery and production quantities.

In a statement, Pfizer, a US company headquartered in New York City, said that “any additional dose beyond $ 100 million is subject to a separate and mutually acceptable agreement” and that “the company does not is not able to comment on confidential threads. it can take place with the US government. “

The White House’s decision to issue the executive order was reported by Fox News.

So far, only Pfizer has obtained emergency approval from a Western government. British regulators cleared it less than a week ago, after results from advanced clinical trials showed the vaccine to be around 95% effective. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to follow suit in the United States this weekend.

The agency may also soon approve another vaccine developed by Moderna, a small company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But doses provided by Pfizer and Moderna will initially be extremely scarce – enough to vaccinate about 22.5 million people by the end of the year – and federal officials have said vaccines will not be widely available to Americans. before the start of next year, even as the daily death toll continues to climb with more than 280,000 dead to date.

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