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US to Pay 2 Firms $1.95 Billion for COVID-19 Vaccine

FILE - This file photo shows the Pfizer company logo at the company's headquarters in New York.

The U.S. government will pay $1.95 billion to American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech SE for 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine if they succeed in developing one.

The companies said separately Wednesday they reached agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department to deliver a vaccine they are developing jointly, the latest in a series of similar agreements with other vaccine companies.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said during an interview with Fox News Wednesday the U.S. could buy 500 million additional doses of the vaccine provided they are “safe and effective.”

The deal announced Wednesday is part of President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, which hopes to deliver 300 million doses of an approved vaccine by January 2021.

Of the coronavirus vaccines under development worldwide, about two dozen have reached the human trial stage.

The vaccine Pfizer and BioNTech are developing has shown promise in small, early stage human trials and is expected to be tested in a large trial.

The companies said they hope to be ready to seek some type of regulatory approval as early as October if ongoing studies of the vaccine are successful and expect to deliver up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020.