Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Sunday that it is a “likely scenario” that the company’s coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out to Americans before the New Year if it is proven by federal regulators to be safe and effective.
“I can’t say what the FDA will do, but I think it’s a likely scenario and we’re preparing,”
Although Bourla said Pfizer’s studies show there is “a good chance we’ll know if the product works by the end of October,” he noted that pre-year distribution boils down to if and when regulators as Food and Drug The administration issues a license.
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Pfizer’s vaccine candidate, which was developed in collaboration with BioNTech, is moving into its Phase 3 trial and is expected to reach its initial enrollment target of 30,000 participants by next week.
The pharmaceutical giant announced plans to expand its trial to approximately 44,000 participants to increase the diversity of those involved in the study and to include more vulnerable populations, such as 16-year-olds and people with chronic stable conditions like HIV. , hepatitis C or hepatitis B infection.
“I think we should strive to have as diverse a population as possible, but right now we’re not bad, actually. We have a population that globally, only 60% are Caucasians, about 40% are minorities, “said Bourla.” In addition, 44% are elderly people. We obviously try to increase that, especially an emphasis on African Americans and Latin Americans “.
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Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House has funneled nearly $ 10 billion as part of its Operation Warp Speed initiative to accelerate development of a COVID-19 vaccine, with at least six drug companies taking a taxpayer-funded investment. . Bourla, however, said he turned down taxpayer money for vaccine development in an effort to “free our scientists of any red tape.”
“When you get money from someone, it always comes with the strings,” Pfizer’s chief executive said. “They want to see how you progress, what kind of moves you will make, they want relationships. Basically, I gave them an open checkbook so they can only care about the scientific challenges, not anything else. And besides, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of the way. politics, by the way. “
While Bourla acknowledged the possibility that Pfizer’s vaccine candidate could fail, he said he does not believe any potential financial blow will “destroy the company” despite investing at least $ 1.5 billion in the effort.
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The federal government announced in July that it had reached a $ 1.95 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for at least 100 million doses after its FDA approval. Under the agreement, an additional 500 million doses can be purchased and US citizens would receive the vaccine for free.
There are more than 6.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States with more than 193,000 related deaths, according to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University.