Pfizer, feds ink another COVID-19 vaccine supply deal for 100M doses

After an initial coronavirus vaccine supply deal inked this summer and a tense back-and-forth last week between the federal government and Pfizer, the two sides have forged another supply agreement. Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech will provide another 100 million doses of their coronavirus shot in the second quarter of 2021, further expanding the available vaccine supply in the U.S.

As it did in its first agreement with Pfizer, the U.S. government agreed to pay $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of the vaccine—or $19.50 per dose. Wednesday’s deal comes after concerns that partners Pfizer and BioNTech wouldn’t have doses to supply the U.S. in the second quarter and after the sides seemed to be negotiating in the media over a potential supply shortfall.  

Still, the new deal stands to make available at least 400 million coronavirus vaccine doses in the U.S. by the end of the second quarter of 2021. Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to supply 200 million doses, while the government also has secured a commitment of 200 million doses of vaccine from Moderna. Aside from those vaccines, other shots from Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca are in late-stage testing and could add further capacity next year.

And, looking forward, the feds have an option for up to 400 million more Pfizer vaccine doses.

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The deal comes after last week's back-and-forth between U.S. officials and Pfizer following hiccups early in the rollout process. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the company was dealing with “various challenges” producing its doses and that the government would “provide them full support to ensure that they can produce for the American people.”

Pfizer responded that it was “not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed.” The company pushed some blame back to the feds, saying millions of doses were sitting in warehouses.

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In recent weeks, press reports and insiders have detailed behind-the-scenes details of the Trump administration’s negotiations for additional vaccine doses. Pfizer offered to sell more doses months ago, but the government declined, The New York Times reported. For his part, Pfizer board member and former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, M.D., told CNBC that the government refused “multiple times” to purchase the doses this summer. At the time, health officials and others were concerned the troubled talks would mean Pfizer doses wouldn’t be delivered in the second quarter of 2021.