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US orders 100 million more coronavirus vaccine doses: Pfizer

The Trump administration has ordered another 100 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer announced Wednesday.

Under the agreement, Pfizer and BioNTech will supply a total of 200 million doses to the U.S., the company said in a statement. The deliveries are expected to be completed by the end of July 2021. The deal will also give the government the option to buy up to 400 million more doses.

“With these 100 million additional doses, the United States will be able to protect more individuals and hopefully end this devastating pandemic more quickly,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with the U.S. government and healthcare providers around the country.”

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“Securing more doses from Pfizer and BioNTech for delivery in the second quarter of 2021 further expands our supply of doses across the Operation Warp Speed portfolio,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

“This new federal purchase can give Americans even more confidence that we will have enough supply to vaccinate every American who wants it by June 2021,” Azar added.

The development, which was first reported by The New York Times late Tuesday, won't lead to an expansion of early access to the vaccine, but it could help the government offset a possible vaccine shortfall next spring and summer, when the government is hoping to make the shots widely available.

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Pfizer's vaccine was the first to gain authorization for emergency use from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Initial doses were administered to doctors, nurses and some public officials earlier this month.

The agreement with Pfizer includes a pledge from the federal government to use the Defense Production Act (DPA), a decades-old law that allows the executive branch to direct private companies to make goods in times of national crisis or war. Such authorization would eliminate red tape and help Pfizer secure raw materials needed for manufacturing the vaccine.

"Operation Warp Speed [OWS] and the Department of Health and Human Services are using the Defense Production Act to support the production of the six OWS-related vaccines, including Pfizer," and HHS spokesperson told The Hill. "Through the selective application of DPA authorities, OWS helps prioritize access to the critical materials and supplies necessary to expand vaccine production in support of U.S. government contracts."

Bourla has publicly pressed for officials to use the law to help Pfizer maximize its production. The company estimates that if it can gain access to those materials, it can make 70 million additional doses.

Representatives for the company have been trying to broker a deal with the federal government since September, and have been frustrated by a lack of response, the Times reported.

Separately, a second vaccine made by pharmaceutical company Moderna was authorized for emergency use by the FDA last week and has been rolled out for usage as part of the government's aggressive Operation Warp Speed program.

Officials with Operation Warp Speed say it is on track to vaccinate 40 million Americans by the first week of January.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just under 9.5 million doses of both vaccines have been distributed, and just over one million doses have been administered.

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenPutin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting How the infrastructure bill can help close the digital divide Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE, who received the coronavirus vaccine this week, has pledged to continue the Trump administration's aggressive vaccination program, vowing to immunize 100 million Americans in 100 days.

--Dominick Mastrangelo and Nathaniel Weixel contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:01 p.m.