August 13, 2020 8:00:19 am
The United States government has entered into a US$ 1.525 billion deal with Moderna, a US-based biotech company, for securing the supply of 100 million doses of the novel Coronavirus vaccine that the company is developing.
With this, the United States government now has advance supply agreements with five companies whose candidate vaccines are being considered to be the leading contenders to get approved. This is the second deal with Moderna. Earlier, the US government had promised US$ 995 million to the company for the development of technology that is being used for the first time to develop a vaccine. Moderna’s candidate vaccine uses the messenger RNA from the novel Coronavirus to induce immune response in the human beings. An RNA-based vaccine has never been made for any disease till now.
The two agreements combined take the US government’s commitment in the Moderna vaccine to US $2.48 billion. An unspecified part of this money is meant as an incentive for timely delivery of the vaccine, but the company did not reveal the timelines that had been agreed. In a statement, the company said, the agreement also provided for an option for purchase of an additional 400 million doses of vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine is final stage of human trials, and is expected to be ready for approval by early 2021.
The US government has committed itself to securing at least 300 million doses of a novel Coronavirus vaccine by January 2021, through a programme called Operation Warp Speed. So far, the United States has entered into agreements for at least 700 million doses with different companies whose candidates are being considered the most likely to get approved.
It has secured 300 million doses of the vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca in a US $1.2 billion deal. There is another US $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax for 100 million doses. The biggest deal till now was with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline who are collaborating on a vaccine. The US government has agreed to pay US $2.1 billion for securing 100 million doses.
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The US has also entered into a one-billion dollar deal with Johnson & Johnson for supply of 100 million doses. Then there is another US $1.95 billion agreement with Pfizer and BioNtech for another 100 million doses.
That means the United States has already signed advance agreements for 800 million doses of vaccine for a 330 million population. All the vaccines being developed might not be successful. A diversification ensures that the United States would have assured supplies whichever candidate vaccine is successful and wins the race.
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In India, Pune-based Serum Institute has received funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a global vaccine alliance called GAVI, for manufacture and supplies of 100 million doses of vaccines to middle and low income countries. These vaccines can be from any of the leading developers. It is expected that 50 per cent of this would be supplied to India.
In addition, the Serum Institute also has an agreement with AstraZeneca for the production and supply of the vaccine candidate it is developing with the Oxford University. For that vaccine, Serum has also got approval from the Indian drug regulator to carry out phase-2 and phase-3 trials in India.
Hunt for Coronavirus vaccine: The story so far
- Russia has announced its novel Coronavirus vaccine is ready
- More than 160 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical or clinical trials
- 28 of them in clinical (human) trials. At least seven of them are by Chinese companies or research institutions
- Five of them in final stages, phase-3 of human trials (the Russian vaccine is shown in phase-1 of human trials)
- At least eight candidate vaccines being developed in India. Two of these have entered phase -II trials after completing phase-I.
(As on August 10)
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