With coronavirus vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna demonstrating substantial 95 percent efficacy in clinical trials, the focus has shifted from developing a viable shot to making enough for the global population.
This week, Pfizer and the United States government made some promising steps toward that goal. The drug giant has formally agreed to deliver 100 million additional doses. The cost is estimated to be $1.95 billion.
Under the deal, the government is expected to activate the Defense Production Act to recruit private companies to assist in production. This move would help Pfizer acquire the raw materials needed to manufacture the vaccine.
The government had previously ordered 100 million doses from Pfizer back in July 2020 at a time it was securing supplies from a variety of companies pursuing a vaccine. A total of 200 million Pfizer doses are expected to be delivered by July 2021. This is in addition to 200 million doses from Moderna. Both vaccines use mRNA technology, prompting the body to make a portion of the coronavirus protein so the immune system can prepare a response more quickly if a person is infected with the virus.
Because both vaccines require two doses spaced three to four weeks apart, the Pfizer and Moderna orders are able to vaccinate 100 million people each.
Approximately 40 million vaccine doses are expected to be administered this month and in early January, covering roughly 20 million people. Health care workers and nursing home residents are among those being prioritized. People over 75 and frontline workers are expected to be among the next groups in line.