A Pfizer plant in Andover has been chosen as one of three locations in the U.S. to mass produce a coronavirus vaccine, potentially by the end of the year, according to the pharmaceutical company.
The first U.S. participants were dosed in a clinical trial for the vaccine at New York University and the University of Maryland yesterday, according to Pfizer and BioNTech.
The vaccine, which carries genetic code known as messenger RNA, attempts to reprogram the deadly pathogen rather than manipulate the live virus.
Scientists say the vaccine instructs a person's cells to make proteins associated with the coronavirus without making the person sick. Researchers hope the body's immune system will then kick in, creating the antibodies needed to fight off COVID-19.
The Andover, Massachusetts, location is one of three Pfizer-owned sites in the U.S., with the others in Michigan and Missouri, that are being prepped to scale up production for global supply. The breadth of the program should allow for millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021, according to Pfizer.
“The short, less than four-month time-frame in which we’ve been able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary and further demonstrates our commitment to dedicating our best-in-class resources, from the lab to manufacturing and beyond, in the battle against COVID-19,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer.
Another site in Puurs, Belgium has been identified as a manufacturing center for vaccine production, with more sites to be selected.
“It is encouraging that we have been able to leverage more than a decade of experience in developing our mRNA platforms to initiate a global clinical trial in multiple regions for our vaccine program in such a short period. We are optimistic that advancing multiple vaccine candidates into human trials will allow us to identify the safest, most effective vaccination options against COVID-19,” said CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin.
BioNTech, or Biopharmaceutical New Technologies, and Pfizer are working jointly to commercialize the vaccine worldwide upon regulatory approval.