July 22 (UPI) — The U.S. authorities on Wednesday introduced it has entered an settlement with drugmaker Pfizer and associate BioNTech to produce and ship 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, as soon as its authorized.

Officers mentioned the Protection and Well being and Human Providers departments are events to the settlement, which additionally permits the federal government to later purchase an extra 500 million doses. The vaccine will likely be obtainable for free of charge, they famous.

The deal includes the BNT162 vaccine candidate now being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the settlement is value practically $2 billion, the businesses mentioned.

The purpose of Operation Warp Pace, the federal and personal enterprise to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, is to start delivering 300 million doses subsequent yr.

“By way of Operation Warp Pace, we’re assembling a portfolio of vaccines to enhance the chances that the American folks could have at the very least one protected, efficient vaccine as quickly as the tip of this yr,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar mentioned in an announcement. “Relying on success in medical trials, at the moment’s settlement will allow the supply of roughly 100 million doses of vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.”

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla mentioned the corporate is dedicated to “making the unattainable doable” by producing a vaccine in document time.

“We made the early determination to start medical work and large-scale manufacturing at our personal threat to make sure that product can be obtainable instantly if our medical trials show profitable and an Emergency Use Authorization is granted,” he mentioned in an announcement.

Pfizer Chief Enterprise Officer John Younger instructed federal lawmakers Tuesday he is assured that scientists will discover an efficient vaccine.

“I imagine the chance is excessive that the biopharmaceutical trade will likely be ready to develop a number of protected and efficient vaccines,” he mentioned.

Wednesday’s settlement comes simply two days after Pfizer and BioNTech reported optimistic testing outcomes for his or her BNT162 candidates. They’re evaluating at the very least 4 potential vaccines within the BNT162 program, all primarily based on the messenger RNA method.

Federal officers mentioned supply of an authorized vaccine would start on the authorities’s route starting within the fourth quarter of 2020. Though the vaccine can be obtainable for free of charge to customers, officers mentioned healthcare professionals might cost insurers for associated prices.

The Well being and Human Providers Division famous that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are being developed with out monetary assist from the federal government.

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