Government awards nearly $2 billion contract to Pfizer for 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

By Jon Johnson

WASHINGTON D.C. – At a press conference Wednesday, President Donald Trump advised of an agreement with Pfizer for 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine – following its approval – with an additional 500 million doses available afterward.

“This is a another crucial step in our effort to develop, manufacture and distribute a vaccine in record-breaking time,” Trump said.

The U.S. government announced its $1.95 billion contract with the German biotech company to produce 100 million doses by December. While the vaccine costs about $20 a dose, Americans are slated to receive the vaccine for free. However, prior to the distribution of the vaccine, it has to receive emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, have also announced an agreement with the United Kingdom for 30 million doses of its potential vaccine. The vaccine is still undergoing clinical trials.

“We’ve been committed to making the impossible possible by working tirelessly to develop and produce in record time a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO. “We made the early decision to begin clinical work and large-scale manufacturing at our own risk to ensure that product would be available immediately if our clinical trials prove successful and an Emergency Use Authorization is granted. We are honored to be a part of this effort to provide Americans access to protection from this deadly virus.”

Pfizer’s potential vaccine in an mRNA-based vaccine which uses genetic material from the virus to stimulate the immune system without making the patient sick. The genetic material from part of the virus is encased in tiny fat particles to allow it to get into human cells, which then stimulates the cells to expel a small piece of the virus, which, in turn, causes the person’s immune system to attack the real virus if the person is exposed. The part of the virus created by the cells is identified as a harmless fragment of the virus. To learn more about the differences between an RNA vaccine from a traditional vaccine, click here to visit a webpage on it by Pfizer.    

In the meantime, to help curb the infection rate, President Trump said the government’s strategy is to shelter those most at risk while allowing younger and healthier citizens to return to work and school.

“Wear a mask, socially distance, and repeatedly wash your hands,” Trump said. “Practice very, very, good sanitary means. You have to do this. You have to look at it differently. Wash your hands often. I’m finding more and more people are saying, ‘wash your hands.’ So, wash your hands. We want young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings. We’re all in this together.”  

Still image from press conference video: President Donald J. Trump shows the mask he carries with him. Trump urged Americans to wear a mask in public when social distancing is not possible.