Why the US’s vaccine investment isn’t purely driven by speed

FROM OUR OBSESSION

Global Economic Disruptions

Globalization, automation, and inequality.

The US federal government is betting on vaccines to end the Covid-19 pandemic.

On July 22, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) announced that it would buy up the first 100 million doses of a potential vaccine from Pfizer, a US-based company, in partnership with the German company BioNTech. The nearly $2 billion investment is just the latest pre-order from the US’s Operation Warp Speed (pdf), which aims to acquire at least 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020. 

But if speed is the program’s goal, it’s certainly not the only qualifier for investment. Collectively, the US pre-orders represent just two of the five Covid-19 vaccines that are furthest along in the clinical trial process, and four of the 13 in later-stage trials.

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