In cooperation with immunotherapy company BioNTech, Pfizer is working on four mRNA vaccine candidates to prevent COVID-19 infection. In Germany and the US, regulatory authorities have approved the Phase I/II clinical trial to test the vaccine candidates on human participants. The study is part of a global development program for a vaccine against the coronavirus.
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Pfizer (US) to produce new COVID-19 vaccine in Flanders
Phase I/II clinical trials are designed to determine the safety, immunogenicity and optimal dosage of potential vaccines. In normal circumstances, these trials can take up to three years. But these are no normal circumstances. “We were able to start with human testing in just four months. This demonstrates our commitment to applying our ‘top-of-the-range’ resources in the fight against COVID-19,” comments Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chairman and CEO.
In the US, 360 healthy individuals between ages 18 to 55 and 65 to 85 volunteered to participate in the trial. Its novel design enables the simultaneous evaluation of the four vaccine candidates in a greater number of volunteers, so the safest and most effective candidate can quickly be identified.
Awaiting the vaccine’s approval, Pfizer is making the necessary preparations for mass production, activating its extensive manufacturing network to ensure rapid production. To this end, the company has appointed three manufacturing sites in Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri, as well as its production site in Puurs (Flanders) as COVID-19 vaccine production centers. The breadth of the program should enable the fabrication of millions of doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021.
“We are very proud that Pfizer Puurs plays a central role in the global production of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a recognition of Flanders’ world-class assets and the knowledge, expertise and experience of our employees,” comments managing director Luc Van Steenwinkel.
We are very proud that Pfizer Puurs plays a central role in the global production of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a recognition of Flanders’ world-class assets and the knowledge, expertise and experience of our employees.
Pfizer has a long history of top-notch production in Flanders. The facility in Puurs, which Pfizer obtained in 2003, is the company’s largest manufacturing site in Europe. Since then, it has been the scene of numerous investments. “These investments are a clear indicator of Pfizer’s vision of Flanders as an attractive location for high-tech production,” comments Luc Van Steenwinkel, managing director of Pfizer in Puurs.
Fun fact: in recognition of its dedication to Flanders, the pharmaceutical giant received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Trophy at the annual Foreign Investment Trophy event of Flanders Investment & Trade.