The U.S. government is buying another 200 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the company said Wednesday, which could be used for vaccinating children or to address variants of the virus if necessary.
The deal allows the Biden administration to receive different versions of the vaccine if necessary, for example if a modified vaccine is needed to fight a variant of the virus. The purchase is exercising an option for additional doses from the original contract with Moderna.
"Importantly, the agreement gives the United States flexibility to choose which type of vaccine we will receive from Moderna if Moderna adjusts its formulation, for example, for pediatric vaccines or to address variants," an administration official said.
The move brings the total U.S. order from Moderna to 500 million doses, of which 217 million have already been supplied, the company said. Another 110 million are expected in the fourth quarter of this year, and 90 million in the first quarter of next year.
“We appreciate the collaboration with the U.S. government for these additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which could be used for primary vaccination, including of children, or possibly as a booster if that becomes necessary to continue to defeat the pandemic,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We remain focused on being proactive as the virus evolves by leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform to stay ahead of emerging variants.”
So far, the original vaccine has worked well against the variants of the virus that have emerged, but Moderna and Pfizer are studying booster shots or modified versions of the vaccine to target any variants that may arise and evade the original vaccine.
As supply in the U.S. is plentiful, the Biden administration has also shifted to focusing on supplying vaccines to other countries that are struggling to inoculate their populations. President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE announced a donation of 500 million Pfizer vaccines to other countries earlier this month.