The company behind the “most advanced” coronavirus vaccine under development said it could produce 100 million doses by the end of the year and as many as 1.3 billion by 2021 at a key facility here in Massachusetts.
“As we continue to fight this virus — against COVID-19 — a vaccine and a treatment can’t come soon enough. Pfizer is developing one of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccines,” Gov. Charlie Baker said during a tour of Pfizer’s Andover facility on Thursday.
Pfizer’s vaccine uses mRNA to deliver genetic instructions to cells — in this case the SARS COVI protein — which then should then elicit an immune response, Pfizer vice president of worldwide research and development Dr. Meg Ruesch explained Thursday.
Research into Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine candidate began in March, she said.
“Our ability to manufacture mRNA with quality and speed at Pfizer Andover is due to the outstanding scientists, engineers and support staff we have here. In the fight against this global pandemic we truly believe that science will win,” Reusch said.
Messenger ribonucleic acid — or mRNA — vaccines are likely to be the first coronavirus treatment available because they’re easier to test and deliver than traditional viral-based vaccines. As such, they have become a popular choice among the 27 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in human testing worldwide, according the New York Times coronavirus tracker.
If Pfizer is successful, it would bring the first mRNA vaccine ever to market, but first it needs approval from the Food and Drug Administration
On Monday, the biggest test yet for the vaccine got underway as the company launched the final stage of trials. In the Phase 3 trial, the company seeks to enroll 30,000 people at testing sites throughout the United States and abroad — including some in Massachusetts, Baker said.
“We’re lucky to have some of the best and brightest minds in research science and medicine right here in our backyard. The doctors and scientists are world-class, and here at Pfizer we see that every day firsthand,” Baker said.
The governor said Massachusetts has seen “good progress” in its fight against the coronavirus but chided people for becoming “careless and complacent” in recent days when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing, particularly at private social gatherings.
Two recent outbreaks have been traced to backyard parties on Cape Cod where, Baker said, maskless revelers did not practice social distancing.
“The bigger issue is honestly the behavior generally … not socially distanced, no masks and in some instances a lack of respect for how this virus works and how it moves from person to person,” Baker said.