US pledges $2.1 billion to Glaxo, Sanofi for coronavirus vaccine

US pledges $2.1 billion to Glaxo, Sanofi for coronavirus vaccine
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The U.S. government will pay $2.1 billion to drugmakers Glaxo and Sanofi for the production of COVID-19 vaccines for up to 50 million people, tests and treatments, the companies announced Friday.

It’s the largest grant that’s been given under the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” the White House initiative focused on producing an accessible coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. 

The deal covers 100 million vaccines, at two per person, at a cost of about $42 per person. The deal allows the U.S. to order 500 million more doses from the two companies at an unspecified price. 

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According to Glaxo, more than half of the $2.1 billion from the government will support further development of the vaccine, including clinical trials.

U.S. attempts to obtain or fast-track a vaccine has caused some concern globally about distribution.

In May, French officials said it would be “unacceptable” for Americans to get first dibs on a coronavirus vaccine developed by Sanofi, a French company, after CEO Paul Hudson said that the drug company would likely provide its vaccine to the U.S. first because it was the first to provide funding for the research.

Last week Pfizer and BioNTech, a German biotech company, announced that the U.S. had reached a $1.95 billion deal with them for an initial order of 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine, which is now on phase three of its trial.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement announcing the Glaxo-Sanofi deal that supporting the creation of more than one vaccine “increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year.”

Updated at 8:30 a.m.