Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health on Friday said that the government had signed an agreement with the American biotech company Moderna to procure 4.5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, if the vaccine should prove successful.
"The federal government wants to ensure that the Swiss population has rapid access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine," the office said in a statement. "At the same time, Switzerland is supporting multilateral projects for the fair distribution of a future vaccine."
The deal is said to be one of the first of its kind between any country's government and a drug developer, with Swiss public health officials saying they hope to "guarantee Switzerland early access to the vaccine of Moderna."
The 4.5 million doses would be enough to vaccinate 2.25 million people, or around a quarter of the Swiss population, per the AP. (It's expected that two doses are believed to be necessary per person, the outlet reported.)
Meanwhile, Switzerland's government said it's in talks with other vaccine developers, and per the AP, has allocated 300 million Swiss francs (nearly $330 million) for purchases of COVID-19 vaccines. (The value of the Moderna deal was not disclosed.)
Dr. Anthony Fauci said results from early-stage clinical testing show the vaccine candidate is safe and produces an immune response, which supported the start of a Phase III clinical trial last month. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The Phase III trial is expected to involve 30,000 people. The primary goal of the study is to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, with secondary goals including preventing severe COVID-19 (patients who need to be hospitalized) and preventing the infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Fauci told Reuters there would be no pressure in the U.S. to unsafely speed up the approval of a vaccine for political expediency, despite the November election.
The Associated Press and Fox News' Chris Ciaccia and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.