President Trump said Tuesday that the federal government has signed a deal with Moderna to buy 100 million doses of the Cambridge drug company’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
Researchers began testing the vaccine last month in a nationwide study that will involve 30,000 volunteers.
Trump’s announcement, made during a news conference, follows similar deals the government has made with other drug makers working to develop coronavirus vaccines, including a partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and another between Pfizer and BioNTech.
Under the deal with Moderna, the government will award the company $1.525 billion to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of its experimental vaccine. With a previous commitment of up to $955 million from the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, the government has now pledged up to $2.48 billion for Moderna’s vaccine candidate, though it remains to be seen whether it is safe and effective.
The government will have the option to buy an additional 400 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, one of several COVID-19 vaccine candidates being bankrolled by the US government through the effort called Operation Warp Speed.
Moderna has developed a vaccine that relies on messenger RNA. The vaccine inserts portions of the novel coronavirus’s RNA into cells, which then manufacture a piece of the virus to trigger an immune response. The company set a drug industry record by producing its vaccine in 42 days after receiving the genetic sequence of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“We appreciate the confidence of the US government in our mRNA vaccine platform and the continued support,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said in a statement.
On July 27, researchers began studying Moderna’s vaccine in a late-stage trial involving 30,000 volunteers at 89 clinical sites around the country. The vaccine was developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is headed by the nation’s top infectious diseases doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Researchers may have interim results by November or earlier, but it’s impossible to predict with certainty, Fauci has said.
Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at email@example.com.