The US has committed to buy 100m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna, Donald Trump has announced, even while the vaccine remains in an experimental stage.
The US president on Tuesday said his administration had agreed to buy 100m doses from the US biotech group, with an option to buy another 400m, for which the company said it would be paid just over $1.5bn.
The deal comes after the US struck a similar agreement with Moderna’s rival Pfizer to purchase 100m doses for a price of almost $2bn.
Mr Trump said: “We are investing in the development and manufacture of the top six vaccine candidates to ensure rapid delivery.
“The military is ready to go, they’re ready to deliver a vaccine to Americans as soon as one is fully approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and we’re very close to that approval.”
Moderna is undertaking phase 3 clinical trials of its experimental drug, known as mRNA-1273, after a phase 1 trial earlier this year showed the vaccine prompted an antibody response in all 45 participants.
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The Financial Times revealed last month the company was looking for a price of about $25-$30 a dose, compared with $19.50 charged by Pfizer. But while the price announced on Tuesday looked cheaper than that charged by Pfizer, it did not include almost $1bn the US government has already agreed to pay in supporting the vaccine’s development.
Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We appreciate the confidence of the US government in our mRNA vaccine platform and the continued support.”
The Trump administration has already announced it is investing in manufacturing plants as well as storage and delivery facilities in the hope that a successful vaccine can be rolled out as quickly as possible.
Earlier in the day, Alex Azar, the health secretary, said the administration was aiming to be able to provide tens of millions of doses of vaccine by December.