PORTAGE, Mich. — Shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine continue to roll out of Pfizer's Kalamazoo location heading to healthcare workers nationwide.
It's the culmination of a busy year for Pfizer.
As of noon Tuesday, Pfizer's Kalamazoo facility said they had shipped around 1.662 million vaccine doses across the United States, and they continue to fill orders as they come in. But, they said their work is far from over.
"Our team celebrated for a nano-second on Sunday morning and then we got right back to it. We know that people are waiting and tragically people are dying, said Pfizer's Vice-President of Operations in Global Sterile Injectables Chaz Calitri.
Sunday's first vaccine shipment was nine months in the making.
It was on March 20 that Pfizer's Vice President of Operations in Global Sterile Injectables said he found out Kalamazoo's facility would be one of two sites to produce and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine. The other in Belgium, just outside of Brussels.
"I was ecstatic about it but at the same time, we were being asked to make up to that time one hundred million doses of vaccine in a matter of months, and that is quite a tall order," said Calitri.
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Calitri said the timeline was "lightspeed", moving as fast as they could with a goal to manufacture by the end of the year, clearly exceeding that expectation.
"Between the two sites, it is up to 50 million by the end of the year, then 1.3 billion next year. Of course, we are trying to do better than that. We’re not satisfied or comfortable with that as long as we have a pandemic going on," said Calitri.
On top of the plan to manufacture the vaccine, Pfizer's Kalamazoo location has also launched three separate projects to expand capacity, something they've also been working on 24/7 since March.
"What you are seeing are the fruits of phase one. Quickly phase two, three and four are coming. That is what we really need to get to so there has been no let up here," said Calitri.
Calitri said they have a team of about 600 people working on the vaccine project including line workers, engineers and tech specialists, but as they continue to ramp up efforts, he said the team will grow to about 700 people.
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