US purchases 100 million additional doses of Moderna vaccine

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Washington (AFP)

The United States said on Friday it was purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by Moderna, amid reports the government had passed on the advisability of further securing the supply of the Pfizer vaccine.

The deal brings the total number of doses of Moderna purchased by the United States to 200 million, enough to immunize 100 million people with the two-dose regimen.

“Securing an additional 100 million doses of Moderna by June 2021 further expands our dose offering across the Operation Warp Speed ​​vaccine portfolio,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

A statement from the New York state-based biotech company said the new order will be delivered in the second quarter of 2021, while the first order will be completed in the first quarter.

Total federal funding allocated to Moderna for the mRNA-1273 vaccine, which it co-developed with the National Institutes for Health (NIH), now stands at $ 4.1 billion.

Latest deal comes after media reported that over the summer the United States decided not to extend its Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine order beyond the 100 million doses it originally ordered. , allowing other countries to purchase valuable supplies.

Emergency use authorization is said to be imminent for the Pfizer jab, which is also a two-dose regimen, after a committee of independent experts voted in favor on Thursday.

A similar panel of experts will be convened to discuss the Moderna-NIH vaccine on December 17, and emergency approval could follow soon after.

It was found to have an efficacy of 94.1% in a clinical trial involving 30,000 people.

These two pioneers use mRNA (Messenger Ribonucleic Acid) technology, a new approach that provides genetic instructions to human cells to express a surface protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

This simulates an infection and prepares the immune system in case it encounters the real virus.

The development of these vaccines is faster than more traditional approaches, which often rely on the use of weakened or inactivated forms of pathogenic microbes.

The main drawback identified so far is that mRNA molecules, which are trapped in fatty particles, must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures: -70 degrees Celsius for Pfizer, -20 degrees Celsius for Moderna.

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