Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, its German partner, have announced the purchase of 200 million new doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to improve pediatric vaccination and booster shots, where needed.
As part of the agreement, Pfizer will provide the US with 65 million doses for children under 12, including doses available as soon as vaccine approval for that age group is available.
The US government may also choose to buy an updated vaccine version targeting new coronavirus strains. The landmark deal comes in the wake of the coronavirus Delta variant making its way across the country and propelling infections. It also fuels the debate about Americans’ need for a booster dose this fall.
With this purchase, the total number of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses the US expects in supply becomes 500 million. Around 208 million doses have been delivered, according to recent data from the government.
Highlighting its medium-term significance, Albert Bouria, Pfizer Chief Executive, says the additional doses will “help the US government ensure broad vaccine access into next year.” The company had last year, signed a $2 billion deal with the US government for 100 million vaccine doses of the vaccine, with an option to purchase 500 million more doses afterward.
According to the companies, the bulk of the new doses will arrive by the end of the year, with the remaining 90 million to be delivered by April 30.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s newly designed vaccine will undergo tests targeting the Delta variant, though the current vaccine may offer some protection against the much-discussed variant.
Earlier this month, both companies announced plans to seek US and EU authorization for a booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. The Biden administration said Americans who have not had full vaccination do not need a booster shot at this time. However, CDC experts advised that boosters for the immunocompromised needed to wait for regulatory action from the Food and Drug Administration before a recommendation could be made.