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The United States assured this Wednesday that it had contracted at least 900 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and could increase that figure to 3 billion, which guarantees it has a notable “surplus” that it plans to share with its allies around the world.
“Right now we have 900 million doses of the vaccine contracted for delivery, and we have options that increase that to a total of 3 billion doses,” U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said at a press conference.
“We believe that we will, in fact, have a surplus in our vaccine supply, and that’s why the President (Donald Trump) signed an executive order committing to take those surpluses, of vaccine and manufacturing capacity, and use them for the benefit of the global community,” Azar added.
The United States has a population of about 330 million people, from which must be subtracted the approximately 70 million who will not receive the vaccine for now because it is not indicated for children under 16.
The United States wants to get another 100 million doses of Pfizer, and is now negotiating with that lab to help them produce new units of the vaccine for Americans in the first half of 2021, according to The New York Times.
“We are working with Pfizer and I am very optimistic that we will succeed,” Azar said, noting that Washington hopes to get “better visibility” of the process of producing that vaccine.
Azar also revealed that Pfizer has “recently informed them of several challenges they may have in their manufacturing process” of the vaccine, and that the Trump government has offered them “full support to ensure they can produce.”
The United States approved Pfizer’s vaccine last week and shipped 2.9 million doses nationwide, averaging more than 200,000 infections per day, and began inoculating the first health care workers on Monday.
A second vaccine, Moderna’s, could be approved in a matter of hours or days, since this Thursday an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) will meet to evaluate it, which in a preliminary analysis has already confirmed the effectiveness and safety of that vaccine.
In addition to Pfizer’s guaranteed 100 million doses and Moderna’s 200 million doses, the United States has purchased another 300 million doses of the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca, 100 million doses of Novavax, 100 million doses of Sanofi and GSK and another 100 million doses of Johnson and Johnson, which unlike others would only require one, not two, doses.
Johnson and Johnson will close volunteer recruitment for its phase 3 vaccine this Thursday, and Washington hopes to evaluate its effectiveness in January, Moncef Slaoui, senior advisor to the White House’s Operation Warp Speed against the pandemic, said Wednesday.