By Zachary Brennan 08/11/2020 06:37 PM EDT
The U.S. government is purchasing 100 million doses of Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine for about $1.5 billion, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday evening.
The deal gives the government an option to buy another 400 million doses, HHS said. The agency also said the vaccine would be available to Americans at no cost, the same arrangement it has made with other coronavirus vaccine developers.
Federal funding: The government has now committed up to $2.48 billion to Moderna’s vaccine — including support for late-stage clinical trials, expanded manufacturing and other development activities along with the latest purchase.
The company told Axios last week that the government was funding the entirety of the vaccine’s development. A Moderna spokesperson walked back those comments after questioning by POLITICO, saying the company has spent more than $5 billion to develop the messenger RNA technology that underlies the shot.
Background: This is one of several deals to purchase vaccine doses by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, which aims to make available 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine by January 2021.
The Moderna deal is on the cheaper end. The government has previously awarded about $2 billion to Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for 100 million doses and development assistance, $1.9 billion to Pfizer for 100 million doses with the option to buy 500 million more, $1.6 million to Novavax for 100 million doses and development work, and $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca for 300 million doses and clinical studies.
What’s next: Moderna is continuing to enroll participants in its late-stage trial, which aims to include 30,000 people. If the vaccine is proven effective, the company could roll it out later this year. Moderna is also working with contractors Lonza, Catalent and Rovi to scale up its manufacturing of the vaccine.