WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (Politico) - The United States will buy 100 million additional shots of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine — doubling its initial order of the vaccine, which the FDA is expected to authorize later this month.
The expanded order would ensure continuous vaccine delivery through the end of June 2021, at a total cost of $3.2 billion, the Trump administration said.
Moderna’s vaccine, which is based on messenger RNA technology and about 95 percent effective in trials, will be discussed by an expert FDA panel on Thursday. Emergency authorization could come within days, potentially making the shot the second vaccine cleared for use in the United States. The FDA is expected to authorize the first, from Pfizer, as early as Friday evening.
Operation Warp Speed, the government initiative to accelerate coronavirus vaccine development and delivery, has already said that between the two options there will be 20 million doses available in December.
The government’s original $1.5 billion purchasing agreement with Moderna secured 100 million shots, with the option to buy 400 million more. While the Trump administration isn’t ordering the maximum amount, the expanded agreement brings U.S. funding for Moderna up to about $4.1 billion, a figure that includes some money for development of the shot.
“This new federal purchase can give Americans even greater confidence we will have enough supply to vaccinate all Americans who want it by the second quarter of 2021,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.
The government still has an option to buy another 300 million shots at a later date.
Warp Speed has secured 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which is also based on mRNA technology. But recent reports that the government did not expand its order for that shot — despite inking a deal with Pfizer this summer that includes an option for 500 million additional doses — raised fresh concerns that there could be a supply shortage in early 2021 after the initial wave of doses.
Warp Speed has signed deals with six manufacturers for 800 million doses, but it is not clear yet which ones will be proven effective and authorized for use.