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Pfizer to prepare for ‘likely scenario’ of vaccine distribution before end of year

The company’s CEO says it should know if the vaccine is effective by the end of October

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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said over the weekend that “hundreds of thousands” of his company’s COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed before the end of the year if found by the FDA to be safe and effective. 

The results of Pfizer’s late stage clinical trial on the potential vaccine should be available by the end of October, Bourla said during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He said his company is “preparing” for a scenario where the vaccine would roll out before the end of the year.  

“I don't know if they have to wait until 2021,” Bourla said, responding to a question on when the public will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine. “Because as I said, our studies, we have a good chance that we will know if the product works by the end of October. Then it’s the regulator's job to issue a license or not.”’

Already started manufacturing

Pfizer, which is working with drug maker BioNTech, has invested $1.5 billion into the development of its vaccine candidate, which contains genetic material called messenger RNA (or mRNA). Scientists hope the vaccine will prompt the immune system to fend off the virus. 

Bourla said his company is preparing for the “likely scenario” that the vaccine will be deemed safe and effective by the FDA and that Pfizer will be cleared to move forward with distribution before the end of the year. 

“I can not say what FDA will do, but I think it's a likely scenario and we are preparing for it,” he said. “We started already manufacturing and have manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, so just in case we have a good study read out, conclusive, and FDA plus the advisory committee feels comfortable that we will be ready.”

Other companies that are currently in late-stage testing for a vaccine include Moderna and AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca, which paused its trial recently after a study participant experienced an adverse health event, announced over the weekend that it would be resuming its trial. 

Bourla said Pfizer has already started manufacturing its vaccine. 

“We have already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, so just in case we have a good study readout, conclusive and FDA, plus the advisory committee feels comfortable, that we will be ready,” Bourla said.

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