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.
About HHS, ASPR, and BARDA
HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. Within ASPR, BARDA invests in the innovation, advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products – needed to combat health security threats.
About the JPEO-CBRND
The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) protects the Joint Force by providing medical countermeasures and defense equipment against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. JPEO-CBRND’s goal is to enable the Joint Force to fight and win unencumbered by a CBRN environment. JPEO-CBRND facilitates the rapid response, advanced development, manufacturing and acquisition of medical solutions – such as vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics – to combat CBRN and emerging threats such as COVID-19. To learn more about JPEO-CBRND’s COVID-19 response, visit https://www.jpeocbrnd.osd.mil/coronavirus or follow JPEO-CBRND on social media at @JPEOCBRND.