Washington D.C, July 23: The U.S. has agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech SE nearly $2 billion to secure 100 million doses of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine to provide to Americans free of charge, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Several companies across the world are in the race to develop a vaccine for coronavirus which has infected over 15 million people worldwide.

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According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases has surged to 15,177,477 while the death toll has risen to 621,890. Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Phase-I Trial Results Show It is 'Safe, Well-Tolerated And Immunogenic', Tweets Lancet's Chief Editor.

As per the report in WSJ, under the $1.95 billion agreement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department will receive 100 million doses of the vaccine should it be cleared by regulators, and can also acquire an additional 500 million doses.

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The coronavirus cases in the US have risen to 3,969,786 while the death toll has risen to 143,147.

According to the report, as part of its Operation Warp Speed program, the U.S. has already struck agreements with other vaccine developers to secure doses, including a $1.2 billion deal with AstraZeneca PLC for at least 300 million doses of a vaccine developed by University of Oxford researchers and a $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax Inc. will fund clinical studies of its experimental vaccine and establish large-scale manufacturing of doses.

"We're bringing all the resources to bear that we possibly can to try and be a part of a solution to what is a global pandemic," Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young was quoted as saying in an interview. "The world is going to need a lot of vaccines."

Young said Pfizer plans to spend at least $1 billion on its Covid-19 vaccine program this year. To simplify the delivery of its vaccines, Pfizer is making the shots at three U.S. plants, while relying on separate ones overseas for Europe, he said.

Few months ago, President Donald Trump had said that the US will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, under 'Operation Warp Speed' by the end of the year.

"I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine and this data made me feel even more confident that we'll be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020 and we will do the best we can," Trump had said.

The rapid timetable opens the door for health regulators to permit use as early as the fall if the shots prove to work safely in their phase 3 trials.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is set to enter a late-stage, 30,000-person study this month. If the testing is successful and the vaccine is proven to work safely, Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect to seek emergency use authorization or some form of regulatory approval as early as October, reported the Journal.

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