The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), today announced an agreement to purchase 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate for potential use in the fall and winter. This contract announcement follows a recommendation by the FDA last month that vaccine manufacturers update their existing COVID-19 vaccines to create a bivalent booster that can target BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
Today’s purchase is in addition to the 105 million bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster doses the U.S. government purchased recently from Pfizer for potential use later this year, pending FDA authorization and a recommendation by CDC. Pending those FDA and CDC actions, HHS would receive the first deliveries of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine booster doses in early fall.
“We must stay vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 and continue to expand Americans’ access to the best vaccines and treatments,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As we look to the fall and winter, we’re doing just that—ensuring Americans have the tools they need to stay safe and help keep our nation moving forward.”
“We look forward to receiving these new variant-specific vaccines and working with state and local healthcare partners to make the vaccines available for free in communities around the country this fall,” said HHS Assistant Secretary Dawn O’Connell who leads the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
Existing COVID-19 vaccines remain the single most important tool in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death, and given the current threat that BA.5 Omicron subvariant poses, it is essential that Americans stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. At the same time, the virus is dynamic, and the Administration continues to act aggressively to ensure that Americans have access to the latest, most protective vaccines as quickly as they become available.
In order to do so in the absence of additional COVID-19 funding from Congress, earlier this month, the Administration was forced to pull $10 billion from critical COVID-19 response efforts in order to pay for additional vaccines and treatments. The funding for this latest agreement with Moderna comes from that reallocated funding.
Combined, the two agreements with Moderna and Pfizer would make available to the U.S. approximately 171 million bivalent vaccine booster doses for the fall and beyond, should they be authorized and recommended, which would not be enough for every single American. Both Moderna and Pfizer agreements include options for a total of 600 million doses—300 million from each company—but these options can only be exercised with additional funding from Congress.
To award the contract, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of ASPR, collaborated with the DOD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) and Army Contracting Command