Moderna today announced a deal worth $1.76 billion with the US government to supply an initial 66 million doses for a new COVID-19 vaccine booster that targets the Omicron subvariant.
The move comes as cases continue to slowly rise, fueled by the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
Moderna's bivalent booster shot covers the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, plus the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
In a statement, Moderna said the contract also includes an option to buy 234 million additional booster doses. The company is developing two bivalent boosters, one for BA.4/BA.5, as recommended earlier this month by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the other for the BA.1 Omicron strain.
The contract news from Moderna follows an announcement in late June from Pfizer about an agreement worth $3.2 billion, with the government to provide 105 million doses of three different dosages of its vaccine, which it said may include an Omicron-adapted vaccine for adults.
During FDA advisory committee deliberations, vaccine companies said they hoped to have doses available by mid-October, but efforts are under way to make the doses available sooner.
In a new development, the New York Times today said the White House now expects to launch a campaign with the retooled boosters in September, based on delivery projections from both Moderna and Pfizer. Given the September timeline, officials are opting not to roll out second boosters to people ages 50 and younger.
In other US developments:
- The government is trying to streamline access to the prophylactic treatment Evusheld for immunocompromised people by allowing healthcare providers to order small amounts, according to NPR. The drug will be made available to some federal pharmacy partners.
- The 7-day average for new daily COVID-19 cases continues to rise slowly and is at 132,499, with 423 daily deaths, according to the Washington Post
- More than 80% of the US population lives in counties that have high (45.8%) or medium (35.5%) COVID-19 levels, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maps.