President Trump announced a coronavirus vaccine deal with two of the country's largest retail pharmacy chains, CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) and Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA), during a speech in Florida on Friday afternoon.
The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program is a new arrangement between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), CVS Health, and Walgreens. Once a vaccine becomes available, vaccines administered by one of the pharmacy chains partnered with the government will not be attached to any out-of-pocket costs.
There are dozens of coronavirus vaccines in clinical-stage testing, but none of them have had enough time to be proven safe and effective. BNT162, a first-in-class vaccine based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology from BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) and its big pharma partner Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), could be ready by the end of November, and this is arguably the front runner at the moment.
In July, the U.S. government placed an initial order for 100 million doses of BNT162 for $1.95 billion and secured an option to acquire an additional 500 million doses.
Beginning Oct. 19, 2020, long-term care facility operators can opt in and select CVS or Walgreens as their preferred pharmacy partner. Once the FDA authorizes the emergency use of a vaccine, facilities can begin setting appointments to receive the medication. All of the vaccine programs in late-stage clinical trials rely on a booster shot, and the DOD anticipates three total visits over about two months.