As companies have raced to develop a viable vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic, the value to national governments began to take shape, with several multi-million dollar deals agreed to secure supply.
How valuable the vaccines are and will become was given further clarity after the announcement today that the US government was prepared to pay $1.95bn (€1.68bn) for 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s potential vaccine.
The US government also holds the possibility to acquire a further 500 million doses, which, if the costing remains the same, would be worth $9.75bn to the partners.
Though this figure is astronomical, the US Congressional Budget Office projects that the overall impact of the novel coronavirus on the US economy could cause approximately $7.9tn in damage to the country’s GDP through to 2030.
The vaccine will add to the country’s growing portfolio of potential vaccines and treatments that ‘Operation Warp Speed’ is working on.
Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech were able to release positive results from Phase I/II trials into their mRNA vaccine. The data showed that all recipients receiving BNT162b1 had elevated antibodies against the virus after dosing.
This week, data from an ongoing Phase I/II trial revealed a T-cell response to the vaccine, which could be important in conferring long-term protection against the virus.
Future steps for the vaccine will include beginning a Phase IIb/III trial, which is anticipated to commence later this month.
Pfizer and BioNTech anticipate being able to apply for emergency use authorization for the vaccine as early as October 2020.
In terms of manufacturing capacity, there is an expectation of being able to produce up to 100 million doses by the end of this year, with the potential ability to manufacture 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
A spokesperson for Pfizer outlined that the company will invest over $1bn to ensure it has the capacity to develop the vaccine and scale manufacturing to the extent required.