The US government has agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine if it proves “safe and effective” in humans, the companies announced Wednesday.

Under the agreement, the US government “can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses” of the drug jointly developed by the American and German companies after Pfizer manufactures and obtains approval for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they said in a joint statement.

Those drugs will be delivered to Americans “at no cost”.

The companies are seeking to obtain the emergency use authorization or some form of regulatory approval “as early as October,” if the ongoing trials are successful.

They expect to manufacture globally up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar also confirmed the vaccine agreement between the parties.

“We just signed a contract with global pharmaceutical leader Pfizer to produce 100 million doses of vaccine starting in December of this year with an option to buy a half a billion doses,” Azar said on Fox News. “Now those would of course have to be safe and effective.”

As part of the Operation Warp Speed governmental program that aims to begin delivering millions of doses of an effective virus vaccine in 2021, the US government announced early July a $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax for manufacturing and delivering 100 million doses by January 2021.

The announcement came as many parts of the country have recorded new spikes in coronavirus cases recently.

The US is the worst-hit country by the pandemic with more than 3.9 million cases and over 142,000 deaths. In all, more than 1.18 million recoveries have been recorded.

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