Covid: US buys an additional 100 million doses of Moderna vaccine

WASHINGTON: The US said on Friday it was purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Covid-19 candidate vaccine developed by Moderna, amid reports the government missed an opportunity to secure more supply of the Pfizer vaccine.
The agreement brings the total number of doses of Moderna purchased by the United States to 200 million, enough to immunize 100 million people with the two-injection regimen.
“Obtaining another 100 million doses of Moderna by June 2021 further expands our supply of doses across the Operation Warp Speed ​​vaccine portfolio,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.
A statement from the New York state-based biotech firm said the new order would be delivered in the second quarter of 2021, while the first order would be completed in the first quarter.
Total federal funding allocated to Moderna for the mRNA-1273 vaccine, which it developed jointly with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), now stands at $ 4.1 billion.
The latest deal comes after media reported that over the summer the US decided not to extend its order for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine beyond the 100 million doses it had initially ordered, allowing others to countries buy a precious supply.
An emergency use authorization is believed to be imminent for Pfizer’s jab, which is also a two-dose regimen, after a committee of independent experts voted in favor Thursday.
A similar expert panel will convene to discuss the Modern-NIH vaccine on December 17, and emergency approval could follow shortly thereafter.
It has been found to be 94.1 percent effective in a clinical trial involving 30,000 people.
Both pioneers use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology, a new approach that provides genetic instructions to human cells to make them express a surface protein from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
This simulates an infection and prepares the immune system in case it encounters the real virus.
The development of these vaccines is faster than more traditional approaches, which often rely on the use of weakened or inactivated forms of disease-causing microbes.
The main drawback that has been identified so far is that mRNA molecules, which are encased in fatty particles, must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures: -70 degrees Celsius for Pfizer, -20 degrees Celsius for Moderna.