Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could be distributed to Americans before the end of the year if found to be safe and effective, CEO Albert Bourla said Sunday.
The drugmaker should have key data from its late-stage trial for the Food and Drug Administration by the end of October, Bourla said during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” If the FDA approves the vaccine, the company is prepared to distribute “hundreds of thousands of doses,” he said.
Because of the pandemic, U.S. health officials and drugmakers have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.
The U.S. pharmaceutical giant has been working alongside German drugmaker BioNTech. In July, the U.S. government announced it would pay the companies $1.95 billion to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their vaccine if it proves safe and effective. The deal was signed as part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to accelerate development and production of vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus.
Bourla said Sunday that the company has already invested $1.5 billion for the development of the potential vaccine. He said if the vaccine failed to work it would be financially “painful” for the company.
“At the end of the day, it’s only money. But that will not break the company, although it’s going to be painful,’” he said.
Pfizer’s experimental vaccine contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, which scientists hope provokes the immune system to fight the virus.
Pfizer is one of three companies currently in late-stage testing for a vaccine. The other two are Moderna and AstraZeneca, which announced Saturday it would resume its trial after temporarily pausing it for safety reasons.