Coronavirus vaccine will be made free for Americans who can’t afford it, US officials say

A nurse wears personal protective equipment (PPE) as she cares for a coronavirus COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit (I.C.U.) at Regional Medical Center on May 21, 2020 in San Jose, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The coronavirus vaccine will be provided free of charge to Americans who can’t afford it, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

Any Americans who is “vulnerable, who cannot afford the vaccine and desires the vaccine, we will provide it for free,” a senior administration official told reporters during a press briefing Tuesday morning.

Some commercial insurers have also expressed “eagerness” to cover the vaccine without a co-pay, the official said, adding most are already covering coronavirus-related services.

The coronavirus has infected more than 2.1 million Americans and killed at least 116,127 since the first reported U.S. case less than five months ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. U.S. officials and scientists are hopeful a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 will be ready in the first half of 2021. 

U.S. health officials and researchers have been fast-tracking work on vaccine development, aiming to produce 300 million doses of a potential vaccine by January. The official said the Trump administration’s goal is to have enough vaccines to protect “as much life as possible” by the height of the flu season. 

Because of the pandemic, U.S. officials are investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe. The Trump administration has narrowed its list of promising experimental vaccines to about seven from 14, officials said. The official did not say which ones have started vaccine production.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump said that the U.S. had already produced 2 million coronavirus vaccine doses that are “ready to go” once scientists figure out whether it is safe and effective.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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