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US government wants to distribute coronavirus vaccines for free

Americans likely won’t have to pay for a coronavirus vaccine once researchers have one ready, according to reports.

The US government plans to pick up the tab for the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses that pharmaceutical firms are racing to produce, the Wall Street Journal reported. The feds are also reportedly talking with insurance companies to make sure patients can get the shots without forking over a co-pay.

“What we’re hoping is that every American will not only get a free vaccine distributed to many different outlets, but also will not have to pay for the administration of that vaccine,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday.

A deal with insurers to eliminate vaccine co-pays would follow a commitment from the industry to cover coronavirus testing and treatment at no cost to patients, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group.

But some Americans could have to wait longer than others to get inoculated. Officials say they are working on a “priority list” that will likely put health care workers, nursing homes, seniors and people with a high-risk chronic illness first in line for a vaccine, according to the Washington Examiner.

“We are going to be in a better place than anybody almost ever has been with a new vaccine where you already have a lot of doses, but you still have to be thoughtful about how to choose the priorities in the first few months, until we can immunize everybody,” said National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, per the WSJ.

The Trump administration says it has committed more than $12 billion to support the development of six potential coronavirus vaccines, which health experts view as key to ending the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The government aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine by January as companies such as Moderna and AstraZeneca test whether their shots will work.