US, Moderna Ink $1.5 Billion Deal on COVID-19 Vaccines
The United States has entered an agreement with drugmaker Moderna for 100 million doses of potential coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines worth around $1.5 billion, both the company and White House announced on Tuesday.
In recent weeks, the U.S. has made deals to acquire hundreds of millions of doses for possible COVID-19 vaccines from several companies. It is part of the country's Operation Warp Speed program that aims to give a vaccine in the country by the end of 2020.
A dose of Moderna's vaccine comes at around $30.50 per person, guaranteeing a two-dose regimen, said a report from Reuters.
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, is one of the few prospects that have already reached its final stage of testing. It is on track set to be completed by September, the company said.
In the past, the U.S. government gave Moderna around a billion dollars in funds for its research efforts. This means the country has already spent around $2.5 billion in total for the company's research.
"At risk" Manufacturing
According to a CNN report, Moderna is one of several companies that are making the vaccine "at risk," as the industry calls it. It means the company is making the vaccines even before it is approved.
Clinical trials on the Moderna vaccines are currently in progress to test if it is safe and effective to use against COVID-19.
"I'm pleased to announce we've reached an agreement with Moderna to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine candidate," President Donald Trump said in a Bloomberg report.
Trump noted that the federal government would have ownership of the vaccine doses. If used, the vaccines would be given to Americans at no cost.
Other Vaccine Candidates
Other companies that have gone in agreement with the U.S. government for their COVID-19 vaccine candidates are Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc., BioNTech, Sanofi SA, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc.
In July, the U.S. has agreed to buy 100 million doses of an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE for $1.95 billion. These will have reached full agreement if the vaccine works in trials.
The same deal is also pending for Johnson & Johnson, with 100 million doses worth over $1 billion. All the deals price COVID-19 vaccines between $20 and $42 for a two-dose course of treatment, except for AstraZeneca, reported the Al Jazeera.
The AstraZeneca offered a lower price per drug in exchange for research and development costs.
The agreements will lock in over 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the U.S. alone, assuming that the companies will receive approval. Some deals also gave the U.S. an option to get more doses of their vaccines.
At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there were already 28 COVID-19 vaccines in human trials.
U.S. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Alex Azar discussed the deal on Tuesday. In a statement, he noted that creating a "vaccine portfolio" will increase the chances that the U.S. will have at least one safe and effective vaccine by next year.
Azar added that the deal represents the "next step" in supporting the Moderna vaccine candidate with "the potential to bring hundreds of millions of safe and effective doses to the American people."
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