An anxious world impatient for a return to health security and normalcy heard good news this week when Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer Inc. appeared on CBS News’ Face the Nation.
MarketWatch reported that Bourla said “the pharmaceutical giant should know if its experimental COVID-19 vaccine works by the end of October – and, if approved, it could be distributed in the U.S. by the end of the year.”
“We started already manufacturing, and we have already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, so just in case we have a good study readout, conclusive, and FDA, plus the advisory committee, feels comfortable, that we will be ready,” Bourla said.
“CEO Albert Bourla said there is a ‘good chance’ of getting key data from late-stage trials to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of October, and that the company is already producing the vaccine, just in case,” according to MarketWatch.
Pfizer, which is working with German drug maker BioNTech to develop a vaccine, “will absorb a financial hit if the vaccine fails, but was adamant about not taking government funding to keep the process apolitical, with CEOs of nine pharmaceutical companies having recently felt compelled to push back against a growing perception that Donald Trump and his administration were pressuring regulators to get vaccines and therapies to market ahead of the November 3 presidential election, pledging that their companies would not seek premature approvals or authorizations,” wrote MarketWatch.
“I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy ... basically I gave them an open checkbook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics,” Bourla said, and noted that Pfizer has already invested about $1.5 billion.
“At the end of the day,” said Bourla, “it’s only money. But that will not break the company, although it’s going to be painful,” in the case that the vaccine does not work.
Pfizer and BioNTech is seeking FDA approval to expand Phase 3 vaccine trials from 30,000 to 44,000 participants.
In July several companies announced a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. government to produce 100 million doses of vaccines that are approved by the government.
Also on the vaccine front, MarketWatch reported that “AstraZeneca PLC AZN, +0.93% said it has resumed its vaccine study in the U.K. after halting global studies last week to investigate an unexplained illness in a participant. While British regulators said the trial was safe to proceed, the study remains paused in other countries.”