Washington passed up an option to secure millions of dozes of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last summer, with many now fearing that the move could potentially jeopardise vaccination plans next year until the pharmaceutical giant delivers jabs to other states as per contract terms, according to New York Times report that was later confirmed by AP sources.
In July, the White House announced a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to buy 100 million of their upcoming vaccine that is expected to get emergency authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this month, after a panel of experts from the agency meets on Thursday for a final review.
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the administration’s original deal with Pfizer also included an option to buy additional 500 million doses.
Anonymous government officials now claim that the administration missed a chance during the summer to secure 100 million additional doses for delivery in Q2 2021, and although it has now walking back on its decision, it is unlikely that the pharmaceutical companies will be able to fulfil the late request.
With at least two shots needed to create a necessary immunity against coronavirus, the already-purchased amount of jabs are set to protect around 50 million Americans from COVID-19, nearly 15% of the country’s population. It is believed that these first bunches of vaccine will firstly be administered to the most vulnerable layers of population by the end of this year, as soon as FDA’s approval is guaranteed.
Other Vaccines Сoming
A spokesperson for Health and Human Services told Forbes that apart from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the US still has “five other vaccine candidates, including 100 million doses on the way from Moderna,” that are set to fulfil Trump’s pledge to vaccinate all willing Americans next year.
The Moderna vaccine is also expected to soon get emergency approval from the FDA, when the expert panel gets convened later in December. The producers of both vaccines have announced that the efficiency of jabs against the virus causing COVID-19 is not less than 95%.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration will host an “Operation Warp Speed” summit that will invite health experts, business executives and state leaders to present a plan on how the upcoming inoculation will be administered to Americans. According to the AP report, officials from the pharmaceutical companies will not attend the event.
Under “Operation Warp Speed”, the White House initially planned to produce around 300 million vaccine doses next year, but according to the Washington Post’s report, these intentions have been halted amid logistics issues and manufacturing problems, as well as a lack of raw materials to be supplied to laboratories.
The United States still won’t be the first country in the world to start administrating the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. On Tuesday, the mass vaccination programme called “V-Day” began in the United Kingdom, following an emergency approval stricken by the country’s health authorities last week. The shots will be firstly given to high-priority groups, with around 800,000 doses of the US-German vaccine are expected to be delivered to the UK by this week.