Moderna confirmed on Wednesday that it is in talks with the U.S. to supply an additional 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine.
The federal government had already signed an agreement with the biotechnology company last year to purchase 200 million doses of the inoculation, and the new purchase would bring the total up to 300 million.
This supply will be enough to immunize nearly half of the country’s population with the two-shot regimen.
If the deal goes through, Moderna would deliver the additional doses in summer 2021.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he is also hoping to buy 100 million more doses of the other vaccine approved for emergency use authorization in the U.S., made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, to ensure the nation has enough vaccines for the long term.
Even more doses could be available if federal scientists approve a single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson, which is expected to seek emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks.
Moderna confirmed it it is talks with the Biden administration to supply an additional 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to be delivered in summer 2021. Pictured: Biden speaks about the coronavirus pandemic in the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday
Biden says he hopes this will speed up the rollout after just 23.5 million Americans – seven percent of the population – has been vaccinated with about one million shots per day
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the administration had a ball park figure of how many doses in the U.S. have not yet been given out.
Psaki said she did not know.
‘We’ve been here for five days to evaluate the supply so that we can release the maximum amount while also ensuring that everyone can get the second dose on the FDA recommended schedule,’ she replied.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. has only vaccinated about 23.5 million Americans – seven percent of the population – and one percent has received both shots, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Bloomberg.
The deals pledged by President Biden does not mean the rollout would speed up immediately, but it does mean the nation could see some sense of herd immunity by late summer and early fall.
In addition to deals made with Pfizer and Moderna, the U.S. government has also signed agreements with two vaccines not approved yet, one made by Johnson & Johnson and the other by the University of Oxford.
Johnson & Johnson has committed to deliver 100 million doses by June, which CFO Joe Wolk said on Tuesday the company is ‘confident’ it will be able to do, though the company’s vaccine is yet to be approved by the FDA.
In addition, the U.S. is expected to receive 300 million doses of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and licensed to AstraZeneca, but not until fall 2021. The FDA has not yet approved this shot.
It comes as Biden also announced on Tuesday that the U.S. is ramping up deliveries to hard-pressed states over the next three weeks.
Biden, calling the push a ‘wartime effort,’ acknowledged that states in recent weeks have been left guessing how much supply they will have from one week to the next.
Shortages have been so severe that some vaccination sites around the U.S. had to cancel tens of thousands of appointments with people seeking their first shot.
The news comes one days after Biden pledged to deliver 100 million injections in his first 100 days in office. So far, just 23.5 million Americans have received shots (above)
Biden also promised to increase vaccine deliveries to states by 16% over the next three weeks. Currently, about 43 million doses have been administered (above)
‘This is unacceptable,’ Biden said. ‘Lives are at stake.’
He promised a roughly 16 percent boost in deliveries to states over the next three weeks.
Governors and top health officials have been increasingly raising the alarm about inadequate supplies and the need for earlier and more reliable estimates of how much vaccine is on the way so that they can plan.
Biden’s team held its first virus-related call with the nation’s governors on Tuesday and pledged to provide states with firm vaccine allocations three weeks ahead of delivery.
Biden’s announcement came a day after he grew more bullish about exceeding his vaccine pledge to deliver 100 million injections in his first 100 days in office, suggesting that a rate of 1.5 million doses per day could soon be achieved.
The administration has also promised more openness and said it will hold news briefings three times a week, beginning Wednesday, about the outbreak that has killed more than 423,000 Americans.
The weekly allocation cycle for first doses begins on Monday nights, when federal officials review data on vaccine availability from manufacturers to determine how much each state can have.
Allocations are based on each jurisdiction’s population of people 18 and older.
States are notified on Tuesdays of their allocations through a computer network called Tiberius and other channels, after which they can specify where they want doses shipped. Deliveries start the following Monday.
The U.S. currently ranks sixth in the world in the number of doses administered relative to the country’s population (above)
With the 200 million already purchased, this would bring the federal’s government’s confirmed order with Moderna to 300 million doses
A similar but separate process for ordering second doses, which must be given three to four weeks after the first, begins each week on Sunday night.
The U.S. ranks sixth in the world in the number of doses administered relative to the country’s population, behind No. 1 Israel, United Arab Emirates, the Seychelles, Britain and Bahrain, according to data from Bloomberg.
The reason more of the available shots in the U.S. haven’t been dispensed isn’t entirely clear.
But many vaccination sites are apparently holding large quantities of vaccine in reserve to make sure people who have already gotten their first shot receive the required second one on schedule.
Also, some state officials have complained of a lag between when they report their vaccination numbers to the government and when the figures are posted on the CDC website.