The Biden administration said it has signed a new agreement with Pfizer and partner BioNTech for 105 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine for a fall vaccination campaign, with the deal worth $3.2 billion.
The contract includes doses for both adults and children, as well as supplies of a retooled Omicron-adapted vaccine that is currently pending approval by federal health authorities, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement.
“We look forward to taking delivery of these new variant-specific vaccines and working with state and local health departments, pharmacies, health care providers, federally qualified health centers, and other partners to make them available in communities around the country this fall,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell.
Pharmaceutical firms have been developing vaccines for the Omicron variant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is the dominant strain in the United States.
“This agreement will provide additional doses for U.S. residents and help cope with the next COVID-19 wave. Pending regulatory authorization, it will also include an Omicron-adapted vaccine, which we believe is important to address the rapidly spreading Omicron variant,” Sean Marett, Chief Business and Chief Commercial Officer of BioNTech, said in a statement.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to issue a decision in the coming days following a Tuesday meeting in which external advisers recommended modifying the vaccines to better target Omicron.
Under the new Pfizer contract, the U.S. government has the option to buy an additional 195 million doses, bringing the total up to 300 million, HHS said.
“Over the past 18 months, we have procured and delivered more than 750 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine nationwide, contributing to two-thirds of American adults being fully vaccinated,” O’Connell said.
The CDC recently recommended everyone over 6 months old get the COVID-19 jab, expanding eligibility for nearly 20 million additional children in the United States.
By Tom Ozimek