US government agrees to buy 100m extra doses of Pfizer vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech will provide the US with an additional 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by mid-summer under a new $2bn deal with the American government.

This addition means that Pfizer and BioNTech will deliver a total of 200 million doses to the US and enable some 100 million people to be inoculated against the deadly virus.

The pharmaceutical companies announced their plan Wednesday morning in a press release. They plan to deliver all these doses by mid-summer, with a minimum of 70 million delivered by 30 June and the remainder “no later than” 31 July. Under this agreement, the US will also have the option to obtain another 400 million doses.

There have been 18,238,233 Covid-19 cases in the US, with 322,849 recorded deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US will see its deadliest year in history largely due to Covid-19. Experts believe that overall US life expectancy could drop by as much as three years.

“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,” said Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services. “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 and BioNTech’s vaccine was the first to receive emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. The first shipments were sent to states last week.

The FDA has also granted emergency use authorization to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. While both vaccines require two doses, Moderna doesn’t have to be stored in ultra-cold freezers.

News of these additional doses came several weeks after reports revealed that the Trump Administration had passed on the opportunity to purchase millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. The administration’s contract with Pfizer was for 100m doses, and provided an opportunity to buy up to 500 million additional doses.

Trump’s administration decided not to secure an additional 100m doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for the second quarter of 2021, however.

While more vaccines are expected to come on line, US officials are also contending with apparent vaccine hesitance. New data indicated that approximately 50% of Americans would take the vaccine, but 25% adults said they weren’t certain–and another 25% said they would not.

Experts have maintained that “herd immunity” – when the overall population has mostly become immune because a significant proportion is – will be seen achieved when 60% to 70% acquire some level of immunity.