Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are working diligently to develop COVID-19 therapies. Currently, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any to treat the virus. In the meantime, countries around the globe are looking to lock up vaccines even before they are ready. In late July, the White House announced a nearly $2 billion contract with Pfizer and BioNTech for 100 million doses by December. Before that, AstraZeneca announced a $1.2 billion deal with the U.S. government. AstraZeneca also recently announced a deal to supply up to 400 million doses to Europe’s Inclusive Vaccine Alliance, spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. Sweden later joined the group by inking its own $229 million deal.
The U.S. government’s agreements with these and other companies are part of Operation Warp Speed (OWS). OWS aims to deliver 300 million doses of vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021 and is part of a broader strategy to accelerate development, manufacturing, and distribution of pandemic countermeasures with funding of $10 billion approved by Congress. To incentivize rapid development efforts and a key feature of many of the supply agreements, companies are being granted protection from future product liability claims.
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