The Washington Post interviewed Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about a Covid-19 vaccine that could be ready this year:
In a Washington Post Live interview, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, DVM, PhD said the company could seek regulatory approval for their coronavirus vaccine as soon as October. Bourla said patients’ progress would be tracked for over two years. According to Bourla, the company could have approximately 100 million doses this year, which Americans would receive from the government for free. Pfizer’s contract with the United States government is priced at $19.50 per dose.
In response to President Trump saying a vaccine could be ready as early as November, Bourla said Pfizer could begin seeking regulatory approval for their coronavirus vaccine as soon as October, allowing for potential distribution in November. Bourla said Pfizer would have “approximately 100 million doses” manufactured this year globally and “a big chunk of that will come to the U.S.”
“If the product works, we have already started manufacturing so that we will have available quantities that would be readily available…We expect, given how fast the regulatory agencies all over the world are reviewing those applications, that we’ll do it very quickly.”
Bourla said as part of Pfizer’s contract with the U.S. government, Americans will receive the first doses of the vaccine allotted to the United States for free: “We took that into consideration, that’s why we provided [the U.S. government] with a price that would allow them to do so.”
“We have a contract with the U.S. government to provide them, if the vaccine is successful, 100 million doses and we gave it to the U.S. government at the, I believe, very, very reasonable and low price, which is $19.50 a dose. But the U.S. government will give it to the Americans for free.”
Bourla said their vaccine would originally require two doses 21 days apart. On tracking the effectiveness of the vaccine Bourla said, “We will follow those patients for at least two years.”
Bourla said the need for recurring vaccinations will depend on how durable the vaccination is and whether the virus will mutate. “The good news in both scenarios is the technology we are using right now…is treatable for both scenarios. If the virus changes this technology allows us to change the vaccine in weeks rather than months.”
Bourla said Pfizer expects to make a profit on the vaccine that would be “reasonable and good.”
“We are not thinking about it right now. The main goal right now is to make sure we have a vaccine. There are two enemies, the virus and time.”
Bourla said the vaccine “won’t be a silver bullet, but it will be a significant, significant advancement.”
He added that after the first doses of the vaccine are administered, it will need to be in conjunction with other methods like social distancing until more people are vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved.
On political pressure to develop and manufacture a vaccine, Bourla said: “The political pressure doesn’t worry me at all because I don’t feel it…We have made it very, very clear that we are a company that last year celebrated our 170th anniversary of existence…We have a legacy of respect. We are not going to put out there any product that we ourselves, our scientists don’t feel is safe and effective ever before the FDA speaks.”