US close on deal with Pfizer for millions more vaccine doses
Another deal with Pfizer would move the nation closer to the goal of vaccinating all Americans.
The U.S. government is close to a deal to acquire tens of millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in exchange for helping the pharmaceutical giant gain better access to manufacturing supplies.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Dec. 22 that the deal is under discussion and could be finalized shortly. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to describe ongoing deliberations.
Pfizer’s vaccine was the first to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration and initial shipments went to states last week. It has now been joined by a vaccine from Moderna, which was developed in closer co-operation with scientists from the National Institutes of Health.
Moderna’s vaccine comes under the umbrella of the government’s own effort, which is called Operation Warp Speed. That public-private endeavour was designed to have millions of vaccine doses ready and available to ship once a shot received FDA approval.
But another deal with Pfizer would move the nation closer to the goal of vaccinating all Americans.
A law dating back to the Korean War gives the government authority to direct private companies to produce critical goods in times of national emergency. Called the Defence Production Act, it’s expected to be invoked to help Pfizer secure some raw materials needed for its vaccine.
Pfizer already has a contract to supply the government with 100 million doses of its vaccine under Operation Warp Speed, but government officials have said it’s more of an arms-length relationship with the company and they don’t have as much visibility into its operations.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said last week that the government was negotiating with Pfizer for more doses, but details provided on Dec. 22 about the company’s desire for better access to supplies are new.
Earlier, U.S. officials had said they were discussing the purchase of another 100 million doses of Pfizer vaccine for delivery as early as the middle of next year. Those details and timing may have changed.
Operation Warp Speed is on track to have about 40 million doses of vaccine by the end of this month, of which about 20 million would be allocated for first vaccinations. Distribution of those doses would span into the first week of January.