The U.S. government will pay nearly $2 billion to buy enough of a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc and German biotech BioNTech SE to innoculate 50 million people if it proves to be safe and effective, the companies said on Wednesday.
The contract for 100 million doses of the vaccine amounts to a $39 price tag for what is likely to be a two-dose course of treatment.
The contract is the most the United States has agreed to spend on a vaccine, although previous deals with other vaccine makers were intended to also help pay for development costs.
Pfizer and BioNTech will not receive any money from the government unless their vaccine succeeds in large clinical trials and can be successfully manufactured, according to a Pfizer spokeswoman.
Under the agreement, the government would also have an option to procure an additional 500 million doses. Pfizer said the price for the additional doses would be negotiated separately if the U.S. orders them.
The vaccine, if successful, will be made available to Americans at no cost, although their health insurance may be charged, the U.S. department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.