A Sanofi vaccine manufacturing plant in France. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration is paying GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi $2.1 billion to help the companies get their coronavirus vaccine through clinical trials, cover some manufacturing costs and purchase an initial batch of 100 million doses.

The big picture: The deal, which also includes the option of buying another 500 million doses, is part of the federal government's plan to accelerate the development of as many promising vaccine candidates as possible.

Between the lines: Although GSK and Sanofi won't start their vaccine clinical trials until the fall, putting them behind other companies, the two companies are among the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world and are taking a different approach that relies on more proven technologies.

By the numbers: HHS did not respond to questions about how much of the $2.1 billion was going toward the purchase of the 100 million doses.

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