The Biden administration signed a new agreement with Pfizer and partner BioNTech on June 29 for 105 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine for a fall vaccination campaign, in a deal valued at $3.2 billion.
The contract includes doses for both adults and children, as well as supplies of a retooled Omicron-adapted vaccine that’s currently pending approval by federal health authorities, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement.
“We look forward to taking delivery of these new variant-specific vaccines and working with state and local health departments, pharmacies, health care providers, federally qualified health centers, and other partners to make them available in communities around the country this fall,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell.
Pharmaceutical firms have been developing vaccines for the Omicron variant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is the dominant strain in the United States.
“This agreement will provide additional doses for U.S. residents and help cope with the next COVID-19 wave. Pending regulatory authorization, it will also include an Omicron-adapted vaccine, which we believe is important to address the rapidly spreading Omicron variant,” Sean Marett, chief business and chief commercial officer of BioNTech, said in a statement.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a decision in the coming days following a June 28 meeting in which external advisers recommended modifying the vaccines to better target the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Under the new Pfizer contract, the U.S. government has the option to buy an additional 195 million doses, bringing the total up to 300 million, according to HHS.
“Over the past 18 months, we have procured and delivered more than 750 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine nationwide, contributing to two-thirds of American adults being fully vaccinated,” O’Connell said.
The CDC recently recommended everyone older than 6 months old get the COVID-19 vaccine, expanding eligibility for nearly 20 million additional children in the United States.
Surveys show that a majority of parents with children younger than 5 will wait until more information becomes available, won’t have their children vaccinated unless the vaccination becomes mandatory, or will never have their children vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Under the new Pfizer deal, the U.S. government is set to pay more than $30 per dose on average, which is substantially higher than the $19.50 it paid in its initial Pfizer contract.
Pfizer said in May that it expects about $32 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales for 2022, a figure that reflected agreements signed before the newly announced contract with the U.S. government.
On June 23, Pfizer approved a quarterly cash dividend of $0.40 per share.