Washington, D.C.—While the manufacturers might be mostly the same, the COVID-19 vaccines that will be delivered this fall likely will be different in a very important way: They will target different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the federal government would purchase 66 million doses of Moderna's bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate for potential use in the fall and winter. In June, the FDA called for vaccine manufacturers to update their existing COVID-19 vaccines to create a bivalent booster that can target BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.

The Moderna doses are in addition to the 105 million bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster doses purchased recently from Pfizer for potential use later this year, pending FDA authorization and a recommendation by the CDC. The doses from both companies are expected to arrive 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," stated 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."

The funds for the Moderna doses came from $10 billion the Biden Administration reallocated from COVID-19 response efforts. It had asked for additional funding from Congress but has not been forthcoming so far.

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. That would not be enough for every American, and both Moderna and Pfizer agreements include options for a total of 600 million doses—300 million from each company. The Biden Administration said those options can only be exercised with additional funding from Congress.

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