The United States federal government has agreed to pay $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech aim to have ready later this year.
Pfizer is one of five companies receiving funding from the government to aid them in developing a vaccine against the coronavirus pandemic. The government's push for a vaccine is officially called Operation Warp Speed.
Under the recently signed agreement, Americans would receive Pfizer's vaccine free of charge, once it is ready for public use. The government also has the option to buy another 500 million doses.
BioNTech and Pfizer have four vaccine candidates in the works. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given two of the candidates its "Fast Track" status, which will help to hasten their development compared to the normal timeline for vaccine approval. One already has been shown to induce the body to produce antibodies that neutralize the virus.
The partners say they anticipate requesting FDA approval of a vaccine as soon as October, pending success of clinical trials that are already underway.