The United States government will pay Pfizer Inc nearly $2bn for 100 million additional doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to bolster its supply as the country grapples with a nationwide spike in infections.
The company will deliver at least 70 million doses by June 30 and the rest no later than July 31, Pfizer said on Wednesday, bringing the total number of doses to 200 million for a total price of about $4bn.
The new deal comes amid a jump in US coronavirus infections that added more than a million new cases in just six days, according to a Reuters tally.
More than 322,000 Americans have died and there have been at least 18.2 million reported cases in the US, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) December 23, 2020
Pfizer’s vaccines are already being rolled out across the US after the shot won emergency-use authorisation earlier this month.
“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,” US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
“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.”
The government also has the option to acquire up to an additional 400 million doses of the vaccine.
More than 600,000 Americans have received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The first wave of shots have so far gone to healthcare workers and nursing home residents, as well as some top government officials. Americans in “non-essential” jobs would likely have to wait months for their turn.