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Pfizer announces massive contract for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine if it works

Experimental vaccine hasn't started phase three trials

DETROIT – Pfizer’s experimental coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine hasn’t started phase three trials, but the drugmaker is already announcing a massive contract for the vaccine if it’s proven to be safe and effective.

The vaccine isn’t expected to begin phase three trials until sometime next week.

President Donald Trump’s administration has awarded a $1.9 billion contract to Pfizer and its German partner, Biontech, for 100 million doses of its COIVD-19 vaccine, with the option to buy 500 million more doses.

If all goes well with the testing, the pharmaceutical companies say those first doses could possibly be available by the end of the year.

Pfizer was the first pharmaceutical company to announce a COVID-19 vaccine could possibly be available by the end of 2020. From its research center in Groton, Connecticut, the company on Wednesday announced the agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense.

The contract calls for delivery to begin in 2021.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who has been critical of the federal response to the pandemic, said the agreement is proactive and thoughtful, albeit risky.

“Let’s give credit where credit’s due,” Lamont said. “I think the federal government has been really proactive and thoughtful in regards to what we’re doing with life sciences, what we’re trying to do with therapeutics, what we’re trying to do with vaccines.”

“We can move faster working with the regulatory agencies, more precisely the science studies, which helps us get to the efficacy readout faster so safety is just not compromised,” said John Burkhardt, the senior VP of drug safety for Pfizer. “I feel very confident about that.”

Though the vaccine is still in trials right now, the company said it could make the first 100 million doses by December if it proves safe and effective and gets approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Right now, it looks like the federal government is going to be purchasing the vaccines and making them available at no cost -- the same thing we had to do to get people tested,” Lamont said.

If approved, Pfizer officials said they expect to manufacture more than 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.

Pfizer expects to begin phase three trials be the end of July.


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