On September 22, 2021, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) obtained a copy of the $3.5 billion contract between the U.S. government and Pfizer to purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for international donation to low- and middle-income countries. The document (Contract No. W58P0521C0002) was provided to KEI by the Army in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The contract was executed by the Army Contracting Command on July 30, 2021. It states that Pfizer will “target” 200,000,000 doses of its vaccine for delivery by December 31, 2021 and 300,000,000 doses by June 30, 2022.
The Biden Administration redacted several terms in the contract, including the total number of doses that the USG plans to purchase for donation, the upper limit of the contract if the USG decides to exercise options, a term related to the government’s preference for domestic manufacturing, and a term titled “Excusable Delays Due to COVID-19.”
The agreement contains a term on pricing that is nearly identical to a term in a $10 billion purchase agreement between Pfizer and the USG for 500,000 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for U.S. residents. It states as follows:
“Government Program Pricing
The price per dose in this contract is specific to this contract only. This price shall not serve as the basis for pricing under any separate government contracts between Pfizer and USAID, the Department of Defense, or any other Department or agency of the Government by application of most favored customer, most favored nation, or any other contract or program-specific terms.”
Pages 28 and 29 of the contract list detailed vaccine manufacturing information that Pfizer must submit to the USG. Access to such technical data could be used to enable third parties to manufacture the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is based on mRNA technology.
Pfizer’s original vaccine manufacturing contract with the USG used a loophole known as an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) to sidestep the technical data rights that are obtained by the government when it enters into a standard contract. The OTA provides the government a license to use technical data related to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine “but solely to the extent necessary for the Government to perform its obligations under this Agreement and arrange administration of the doses delivered in accordance with FDA and other applicable regulations,” a provision that narrows the government’s rights and limits its ability to expand global vaccine manufacturing capacity.