As part of a $1.525 billion deal struck with the Trump administration, a Cambridge-based biotechnology company announced Tuesday it will provide millions of doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the federal government.
Moderna, Inc. will manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine, mRNA-1273, while clinical trials are underway, according to a statement from the company.
The biotech company is currently in the third phase of its study of the vaccine, which started on July 27 and is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
Roughly 30,000 volunteers were expected to be injected late last month with mRNA-1273. Moderna is on track to deliver around 500 million doses per year and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021, the company said in July.
Nearly a dozen different COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development throughout the world, including in Britain, China and the United States.
Earlier this week, Russia said it had approved the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, though experts denounced the announcement as premature, Science Magazine reported.
The country’s vaccine, which was only tested on 76 people, has not undergone trials that prove it is effective among a large group of people, the news outlet pointed out.
The deal announced Tuesday with Moderna is part of the White House’s goal of securing early access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for those in the United States.
Manufacturing the mRNA-1273 vaccine during clinical trial aims to expedite the traditional development timeline in accordance with the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed, a program that seeks to produce 300 million doses of a safe coronavirus preventative by January 2021.
BARDA previously gave $955 million to Moderna to develop mRNA-1273, bringing up the federal governments total financial commitments for early access to the company’s vaccine to $2.48 billion.
Incentive payments will also be awarded to the biotech company for timely delivery of its product, Moderna noted in its statement.
The Trump administration will also have the option to buy an additional 400 million doses of mRNA-1273, the statement said.
The U.S. government has said Americans will receive mRNA-1273 at no cost of the product itself, but health care professionals could charge individuals for administering it, as is customary with government-purchased vaccines, according to Moderna.
“We appreciate the confidence of the U.S. government in our mRNA vaccine platform and the continued support,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive. “We are advancing the clinical development of mRNA-1273 with the ongoing Phase 3 study being conducted in collaboration with NIAID and BARDA.
“In parallel, we are scaling up our manufacturing capability with our strategic partners, Lonza, Catalent and Rovi, to address this global health emergency with a safe and effective vaccine.”
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar noted that part of Operation Warp Speed is assembling a “broad portfolio” of vaccines to increase the odds the United States will have at least one effective COVID-19 preventative by year’s end.
“With this latest investment, we will have supported the vaccine candidate developed by Moderna in partnership with the NIH all the way from early development through clinical trials and now manufacturing, with the potential to bring millions of safe and effective doses to the American people,” he said in a statement.
When exactly Americans will get a coronavirus vaccine, though, remains uncertain, with those within the White House in disagreement.
While Republican President Donald Trump has said he expects a vaccine to become available by November, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the timeline could be later than that.
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