Pfizer working ‘fast and furious’ as part of global effort to create COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer official says goal is begin producing mRNA product in Q4 and to create 10,000,000 doses by December
Posted at 11:53 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 23:53:22-04

PORTAGE, Mich. — Currently, on the market there are no mRNA injectable products, said Pfizer executive Chaz Calitri.

However, Pfizer is a part of global team to make one available by the end of the year, as a vaccine for patients battling the coronavirus.

“We’re thrilled to be working on this and as an engineer I can tell you this is a dream project,” said Calitri, vice president of operations and sterile injectables. “We love these types of challenges.”

Calitri said Pfizer, a pharmaceutical supplier based in Portage next to Kalamazoo, is partnering with BioNTech in Germany to make the vaccine.

According to Pfizer’s website, the first participants have been dosed as part of a clinical trial.

“What the injection does is it triggers the body to make a small portion of the virus protein,” said Calitri during a Zoom interview last week. “And then in turn your body reacts by creating an antigen and therein lies the benefit of the injection.”

Calitri said their goal is to make 10,000,000 doses by December.

Typically it takes 3-5 years to complete such a project, Calitri said. However he believes Pfizer has the technology and infrastructure to do it in a few months.

“We’re going fast and furious, spending money, sequestering people and working across the Pfizer network,” Calitri said. “And that’s another advantage of being a part of Pfizer with rich technical capabilities worldwide is that we’re able to tap into those resources through the network as well.”

Calitri said they’re also making modifications to their main manufacturing line so that they can begin producing the mRNA product in Q4.

And, as thrilled as Pfizer is to be a part of the team creating the vaccine, they understand the responsibility to make it effective and safe for patients battling the virus, he said.

“It’s great for patients and people who are waiting for a vaccine. It’s great for Pfizer. It’s great for the industry,” Calitri said. “People want their lives back and this is the way that they’re going to get their lives back.”