President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed has reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech SE to secure an additional 100 million doses of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine.
This means that overall, the Trump administration will have secured 200 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as well as 200 million doses of the vaccine produced by Moderna, according to Bloomberg. The most recent Census estimate pegs the U.S. population at about 329 million people.
The agreement was announced Wednesday by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“Securing more doses from Pfizer and BioNTech for delivery in the second quarter of 2021 further expands our supply of doses across the Operation Warp Speed portfolio,” he said in a statement. “This new federal purchase can give Americans even more confidence that we will have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021.”
Pfizer will deliver at least 70 million doses by June 30, 2021, with a total of 100 million doses due by July 31, 2021. That aligns with the planned mass vaccinations expected to take place next spring.
Thanks to Operation Warp Speed, we expect to see general vaccination programs in late February or early March, with enough vaccine for all Americans who want to take it by the end of the second quarter of 2021. pic.twitter.com/IVou6TLjlw
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 22, 2020
The HHS news release noted that the administration is moving beyond the immediate round of vaccinations in a long-term plan to protect the nation.
“Today’s agreement also includes options for an additional 400 Million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. As part of ongoing coordination, the government and Pfizer are also continuing to discuss potential approaches to further strengthen our partnership and safely expand output and accelerate production,” the statement said.
On Wednesday, Azar announced an agreement with Merck & Co. to provide a drug that can be used to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients. The drug is currently in the experimental stage.
The statement said the U.S. will purchase 100,000 doses of the drug if final testing proves it is effective and the Food and Drug Administration ultimately grants Merck an emergency-use authorization to deploy the drug.
Azar announced in a statement that the Merck drug has “the potential to minimize the damaging effects of an overactive immune response to COVID-19. This overactive response can contribute to the severity of the illness.”
“Our agreement with Merck is the latest example of how industry and government are coming together under Operation Warp Speed to move potential therapeutics all the way from development through to manufacturing, enabling faster distribution,” he said. “More good news about COVID-19 therapeutics is constantly emerging, and President Trump’s commitment to supporting lifesaving therapeutics has already helped deliver hundreds of thousands of Operation Warp Speed-supported therapeutics to the frontlines.”
At a White House vaccine summit earlier this month, Trump noted what has taken place this year.
“Before Operation Warp Speed, the typical timeframe for development and approval, as you know, could be infinity. And we were very, very happy that we were able to get things done at a level that nobody has ever seen before. The gold standard vaccine has been done in less than nine months,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript of his remarks
“Every American who wants the vaccine will be able to get the vaccine. And we think by spring we’re going to be in a position that nobody would have believed possible just a few months ago,” Trump said then.
“We are the most exceptional nation in the history of the world. Today, we’re on the verge of another American medical miracle,” he added.
“American companies were the first to produce a verifiably safe and effective vaccine. Together, we will defeat the virus, and we will soon end the pandemic, and we will save millions and millions of lives, both in our country and all over the world. And we’ve already started.”
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