Moderna says US to procure extra 100 million doses of its mRNA coronavirus vaccine


American drugmaker Moderna said the U.S. will purchase an additional 100 million doses of its Wuhan coronavirus vaccine. The company stated on Dec. 12 that this subsequent order worth $1.65 billion would be sent during the second quarter of 2021. According to the firm, the U.S. government exercised its option to buy the extra doses, doubling the amount it originally committed to purchasing.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the federal government’s purchase of additional doses “can give Americans even greater confidence [that] we will have enough supply to vaccinate all … who want it by the second quarter of 2021.”

Moderna’s two-dose mRNA-1273 vaccine is currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with an emergency-use authorization sought before the end of the month. Earlier, the FDA approved for emergency use Pfizer’s BNT162b2 vaccine it developed with German partner BioNTech.

The additional orders came amid worries that the U.S. may not have enough vaccine doses available for the public: Reports about the current administration passing on a deal from Pfizer for its BNT162b2 coronavirus jab exacerbated the concerns. However, officials reassured the public that the government will be able to meet nationwide demand for vaccination as it secured supply agreements for six vaccine candidates.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government said the drugmaker will be able to produce a continuous supply of doses through the end of June 2021. Moderna has previously announced it expects to manufacture a total of 500 million to 1 billion doses by next year. It currently has two manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the second one owned by its Swiss manufacturing partner Lonza Group AG.

As part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to fast-track the development of a vaccine against the Wuhan coronavirus, HHS and Department of Defense (DoD) have allocated $3.2 billion dollars to expand Moderna’s manufacturing capacity. The Massachusetts-based firm said that the U.S. has the option to purchase a subsequent 300 million doses from it at a fixed price of $16.50 per dose as a result of this investment.