The federal government has agreed to pay two major pharmaceutical companies up to $2.1 billion for testing, manufacturing and the purchase of 100 million doses of an as-yet unfinished vaccine for Covid-19.
The two firms, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, signed the agreement as part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to produce and distribute a vaccine by early 2021. The vaccine candidate is the sixth now in development under the program, which has also made deals with AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer.
The potential vaccine is still in the preclinical trial phase of development, less far along than some of the other Operation Warp Speed candidates. If approved, the 100 million doses would be made available at not cost to Americans.
“Pharmaceutical companies have been under pressure to keep COVID-19 therapies and vaccines affordable, particularly when the federal government — and taxpayers — have offered substantial funding toward research and development,” NRP’s Sydney Lupkin said.
Speaking at a House subcommittee hearing Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he was optimistic that a vaccine would be ready soon. “From everything we've seen now — in the animal data, as well as the human data — we feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021,” he said. “I don't think it's dreaming.”