The United States has purchased an additional 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, enough to vaccinate around 50 million people, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
The nearly $2 billion deal is the second one between the U.S. government and the pharmaceutical giant, bringing Pfizer's total commitment to 200 million doses for the United States.
The country's initial order of 100 million doses began being administered across all 50 states last week.
Under the new deal, Pfizer will deliver at least 70 million doses of the two-shot regimen by the end of June 2021 — the remaining doses will be delivered before the end of the following month.
"Securing more doses from Pfizer and BioNTech for delivery in the second quarter of 2021 further expands our supply of doses across the Operation Warp Speed portfolio," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "This new federal purchase can give Americans even more confidence that we will have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021."
The agreement also includes the option for the U.S. to purchase an additional 400 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Pfizer's vaccine was the first to be approved for emergency use. The first vaccine went to an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York City, one of the hospitals that was hit the hardest by COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic.
The Food and Drug Administration then approved a second vaccine from Moderna, which is already starting to be distributed throughout the country.
The Moderna vaccine (like the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine) requires two doses, each administered several weeks apart, in order to reach 95 percent efficacy.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel has recommended that healthcare workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities be prioritized for the vaccine, followed by those over the age of 75.
Prior to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine's FDA approval, Dr. Anthony Fauci — who received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday — said that the majority of Americans who wish to get vaccinated should be able to by April or May of next year.
"By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population — the normal, healthy young man or woman, 30 years old that has no underlying conditions — can walk into a CVS or to a Walgreens and get vaccinated," he told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview on Nov. 30.
Fauci added, "I would think as we get to April and May that we likely would have, for those who want to get vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of the people that want to get vaccinated."
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