Kalamazoo’s Pfizer Inc. is planning to manufacture the BNT162 vaccine, which is hoped to prevent COVID-19 infection.   Pfizer and the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech began human trials on a potential vaccine in the USA on Monday, May 4th.  Testing began in Germany last month.  If the tests are successful, the vaccine could be ready for emergency use in September.

Pfizer says their clinical trial supply will be made at sites in Andover, Massachusetts, and Chesterfield, Missouri, and the initial manufacturing will be conducted in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to test the vaccine on 360 healthy volunteers for the first stage of the study, adding up to 8,000 volunteers by the end of the second stage.   Participants will be divided into groups to compare four variations of the vaccine.   Doctors will closely monitor the participants’ antibody levels, liver enzymes, and other indicators of possible side effects.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer noted that Kalamazoo is home to one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the world.  “Michigan has a strong history of vaccine development with polio and anthrax vaccines. Pfizer is a great partner and the State of Michigan and our strong manufacturing roots stand ready to serve.”

Medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have stated that 18 months for a vaccine is overly optimistic.  But Pfizer’s chief scientific officer Mikael Dolsten says we need to think differently and faster.  “If we get hit with a second wave of coronavirus infections in October at the same time as the flu, things will be much worse than what we’ve already experienced.”


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