Pfizer Near Accord to Supply Additional Vaccine Doses to U.S.

Pfizer Inc. is moving closer to finalizing a deal to supply the U.S. government with as many as 100 million more doses of the drugmaker’s coronavirus vaccine, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Such a pact could expand the number of shots available to the government as it ramps up its immunization drive in the coming year. While talks were continuing on Tuesday evening, a deal could be announced as soon as Wednesday, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the discussions are private.

The deal would involve the U.S. government using its authority to help prioritize Pfizer’s orders with suppliers of various components needed to make the vaccine. An agreement could still be delayed, according to the person.

Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. vaccine-development program, initially agreed in July to buy 100 million doses of Pfizer’s two-dose regimen, which the New York drugmaker developed with German partner BioNTech SE. The $1.95 billion contract came with an option to buy 500 million more doses.

The Pfizer-BioNTech shot was expected to be one of a half dozen the U.S. would deploy to immunize its population. But some competing vaccines that the government had been relying on to fill out its lineup are taking longer than expected to develop, raising questions about how quickly the U.S. could reach herd immunity and begin to return to some semblance of normalcy.

The two sides have been inching toward a deal after finding themselves at odds over reports that the government declined an offer earlier this year from Pfizer to buy more doses, and that Pfizer would need to fulfill commitments to other countries before it could get more shots to the U.S.

The U.S. effort to stock up isn’t limited to Pfizer. Earlier this month, the U.S. exercised an option to buy 100 million additional vaccine doses from Moderna Inc., doubling the number it has on order from that company to 200 million. Moderna’s vaccine is also a two-shot regimen, but it doesn’t have to be stored at the same ultracold temperatures as the Pfizer shot.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said in an interview with Bloomberg last week that Pfizer had asked the U.S. to exercise the Defense Production Act in order to get additional equipment and materials so it could scale up quickly and deliver more doses in the second quarter of 2021.

The U.S. vaccine distribution effort has been gaining steam since Pfizer’s shot gained its emergency clearance earlier this month and Moderna’s was authorized last week. This week, 7.9 million vaccine doses are expected to be shipped in the U.S., including 2 million Pfizer shots and 5.9 million from Moderna.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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