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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The European Union struck a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to buy at least 200 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine in the largest initial order to date, the companies announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine trial was effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in 90% of previously uninfected people and did not produce any serious safety concerns.

  • The order is awaiting regulatory approval and deliveries are anticipated to begin by the end of this year.
  • The EU will have the option to request an additional 100 million doses.
  • The U.S. made an initial order of 100 million doses in July, with the option to buy 500 million more.

The big picture: The companies expect to produce up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

  • They are exploring a possible supply to the COVAX Facility, a global initiative backed by the World Health Organization that will give governments early access to a portfolio of COVID-19 candidate vaccines.

Go deeper

22 hours ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

20 hours ago - Health

WH coronavirus task force: States must "flatten the curve" to sustain health system

A walk-up Covid-19 testing site in San Fernando, California, on Nov. 24, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The White House coronavirus task force warned states "the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high" and to brace for another surge following Thanksgiving, per a report that emerged Wednesday.

Driving the news: "If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household," said the report, dated Nov. 29, first published by the Center for Public Integrity.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.