As U.S. regulators turn their attention to revamped, variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines for the fall, Pfizer and Moderna could have their retooled shots ready shortly after Labor Day, according to multiple reports.
But while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) late last week inked deals with both companies to initiate a new booster campaign in a couple of months, it warned in its release that this stock would not be enough for every single U.S. resident.
The HHS locked up a deal for 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate. It also inked an agreement to get 105 million bivalent booster doses from Pfizer and BioNTech. Should the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign off on the updated prophylactics, HHS says it expects to receive its first deliveries of the retooled Pfizer and Moderna shots in “early fall.”
However, the 171 million bivalent vaccine booster doses will not be sufficient for the U.S. population. And while the Pfizer and Moderna deals include an option for the U.S. to pick up an extra 300 million doses apiece—for a total of 600 million additional shots—“these options can only be exercised with additional funding from Congress,” HHS said.
The Biden administration says it paid for the Moderna shots with cash from the $10 billion it was “forced to pull” from “critical COVID-19 response efforts” in the absence of additional coronavirus funding from Congress. HHS did not say specifically how much it was paying for the upcoming rounds of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The supply pacts come shortly after the FDA recommended vaccine makers update their shots to create bivalent boosters against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants of the virus.
“Pfizer and Moderna have indicated that they anticipate the modified vaccines being available as early as September,” an unnamed FDA spokesperson told CNN.
Last week, U.S. regulators said they’d no longer weigh the authorization of a second COVID-19 booster shot for adults under the age of 50 this summer. The move is designed to create space for a revamped vaccine campaign this fall and winter, multiple news outlets reported.
Pfizer recently stuck by its Comirnaty sales forecast of $32 billion for the full year. For the second quarter of 2022, the shot pulled down $8.8 billion.
Moderna, for its part, has tallied advanced purchase agreements for its shot, Spikevax, in the vicinity of $21 billion for 2022.