President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that the U.S. government would purchase 100 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in development by Moderna. The vaccine is currently in the late stages of human trials, according to a report by CNBC. This purchase is one of several deals the Trump administration has made with drug developers for a coronavirus vaccine.
Moderna's experimental vaccine is called mRNA-1273, and the company says that it is worth $1.53 billion. The U.S. will begin by purchasing 100 million doses, with the option to acquire 400 million more. This early purchase constitutes an investment in the vaccine so that if the trials are successful, the government will get access to the first batch of usable products. The federal government has reportedly invested $955 million in the drug already — a sizable portion of the $2.48 billion that has been invested in it in total.
"We are investing in the development and manufacture of the top six vaccine candidates to ensure rapid delivery. The military is ready to go, they're ready to deliver a vaccine to Americans as soon as one is fully approved by the FDA and we're very close to that approval," Trump said during a White House press briefing on Wednesday. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel added: "We appreciate the confidence of the U.S. government in our mRNA vaccine platform and the continued support."
The next stage of human trials on Moderna's vaccine will test its safety and efficacy on 30,000 people. The company hopes to get results on the experiment as early as October. Meanwhile, the government has struck similar deals with other drug developers, including Pfizer, Johson and Johson and others.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reportedly previously stated that it would pay $1.95 billion to Phizer and BioNTech — a biotech firm — to produce 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine. In that deal, the government has the option to purchase up to 500 million more doses. Meanwhile, the deal with Johnson and Johnson includes a $1 billion purchase for 100 million doses of that prospective vaccine with the option for 200 million more.
All this funding is intended to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It is all included in a program called Operation Warp Speed. On Tuesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar appeared on ABC News' Good Morning America to discuss progress on these initiatives. He said they are currently on track to produce "tens of millions of doses by December of FDA-gold-standard vaccine and hundreds of millions of doses as we go into the new year."