U.S. Hikes Purchases of COVID-19 Vaccine, Treatment

The United States has acquired adult and pediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for delivery in early fall in a contract worth $3.2 billion, as well as an additional 150,000 doses of bebtelovimab for about $275 million.

Additional COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed across the country as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense are purchasing 105 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for a fall vaccination campaign, with options to buy up to 300 million doses.

Meanwhile, Eli Lilly and Company said in a news release that it will supply an additional 150,000 doses of bebtelovimab, which is authorized for emergency use by the FDA to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.

The new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement follows the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting on June 28, which recommended the inclusion of an omicron component for COVID-19 booster vaccines in the United States, HHS said in a news release.

“Vaccines have been a game-changer in our fight against COVID-19, allowing people to return to normal activities knowing that vaccines protect from severe illness,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to doing everything we can to continue to make vaccines free and widely available to Americans – and this is an important first step to preparing us for the fall.”

The $3.2 billion contract includes a combination of adult and pediatric doses with a portion of the adult doses provided as single-dose vials, a first for COVID-19 vaccines, HHS said.

In addition, the U.S. government is paying a 27% higher price per dose compared with the start of the pandemic, signaling that Pfizer-BioNTech will likely raise prices on the vaccine when it enters the commercial market, SVB Securities analysts wrote in a report.

With the new purchase agreement, Pfizer-BioNTech could supply the country’s needs for another year, according to SVB Securities. “Given the government’s purchases we think it is unlikely that the COVID-19 vaccines transition to a commercial market next year,” the firm said.

Meanwhile, Lilly said the modified purchase agreement with the U.S. government allows it to supply an additional 150,000 doses of bebtelovimab for about $275 million.

The existing U.S. government supply of bebtelovimab, including the new purchase, is expected to meet present demand through late August 2022.

“Bebtelovimab continues to maintain neutralization activity against the most common, and fastest growing, omicron variants (BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5) in the United States, in addition to all known variants of interest and concern,” Lilly said.

While Congress works toward additional COVID-19 funding, Lilly and the U.S. government will continue to work together to support the availability of bebtelovimab to “maximize equity and accessibility in the US market,” said David A. Ricks, chair and CEO of Lilly.