US negotiates 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer that will be free to Americans

Pfizer and BioNTech, a German biotech company, announced Wednesday that the U.S. has reached a $1.95 billion deal with them for an initial order of 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine.

According to the announcement, Americans will receive the vaccine for free. The United States, which has a population of more than 300 million people, could get up to 500 million more doses of the vaccine. 

"Expanding Operation Warp Speed's diverse portfolio by adding a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. “Depending on success in clinical trials, today’s agreement will enable the delivery of approximately 100 million doses of this vaccine to the American people.”

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Shares of Pfizer rose more than 4 percent in premarket trading on the news and BioNTech stock popped more than 6 percent, CNBC reported.

Earlier this month, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said several hundred million doses could be produced even before approval, up to 1.2 billion by the end of 2021.

Their vaccine is set to begin the final stage of the testing process, known as phase three trials, at the end of the month. It is one of more than a dozen companies that has had positive results while working on a vaccine. 

Moderna, a company working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is set to begin the phase three testing stage this month as well. AstraZeneca PLC, a company developing a vaccine with the University of Oxford, will also enter phase three trials in August.