WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The federal government signed a $3.2 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 105 million doses of their updated COVID-19 vaccine.
- The administration is pushing a new vaccination campaign this fall in a bid to abate a renewed COVID-19 surge.
- The updated vaccine was designed to target the omicron variant, aiming for improved protection.
The Biden administration said Wednesday that it is paying $3.2 billion for 105 million doses of an updated Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for a fall campaign, pending Food and Drug Administration’s authorization on the new formula.
The move is a major step in the government’s efforts to move forward with a new vaccination push this fall, in anticipation to a renewed COVID-19 surge when the weather turns colder in most parts of the U. S.
The updated vaccine is expected to target the omicron variant, with the goal of providing improved protection.
Deliveries of new doses are expected to start “as soon as late summer 2022 and continue into the fourth quarter of this year,” Pfizer said in a press release.
The money being used for the orders came from other areas of the administration’s COVID-19 response following Congress’ non-approval on the administration’s request for new funds.
According to the administration, it has had to cut money from key areas like maintaining testing capacity and further research on improved vaccines, such as “pan-coronavirus” shots that can protect from multiple variants.
The White House is still asking for additional funds from Congress, but prospects on Capitol Hill are not looking particularly hopeful amid a continued stalemate. GOP lawmakers are not keen on the urgency for the funds.
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said that “despite months of warnings from the Administration on the consequences of a lack of funding,” due to lack of support from Congress, Wednesday’s order “will not purchase enough vaccines to offer one of these new booster shots to every adult and unfortunately, comes at the expense of continued funding for other critical pandemic response needs like testing manufacturing and domestic vaccine manufacturing.”
The order placed on Wednesday, though, will ensure some Americans can still get updated vaccines for the fall.
“We look forward to taking delivery of these new variant-specific vaccines and working with state and local health departments, pharmacies, health care providers, federally qualified health centers, and other partners to make them available in communities around the country this fall,” said Dawn O’Connell, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.
On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee gave a nod to updating vaccines for omicron, though a lot of steps are still needed for the approval process.
The rollout of the authorized first booster dose recommended for aged 5 and older, has been lagging. This means not everyone will get an updated booster this fall.
An estimate of 105 million people have received their first booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Source: The Hill