The U.S. will pay nearly $2 billion for 100 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Shares of the U.S. drugmaker jumped 5% about an hour before the opening bell.
The U.S. government will receive the doses and make the payment after the drugmakers receive regulatory approval for a potential vaccine that has yet to start big clinical trials in humans. It also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses, according to a statement released Wednesday by the drugmakers.
The companies announced earlier this month that the first of four experimental vaccines they are testing showed encouraging results in very early testing of 45 people.
The drugmakers aim to start a larger study focused on safety and effectiveness later this month. Depending on the results, the companies said they could seek some form of regulatory approval as early as October.
Nearly two dozen possible COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of testing around the world. Different companies are pursuing different types of vaccines, boosting the odds that at least one approach might work — although there’s no guarantee.
Governments from several countries have agreed in advance to buy numerous options, to have them ready for use as soon as possible.