American pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, partnered with German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, announced that their potential novel coronavirus vaccine started the human testing phase in the United States on Monday, hopefully shooting for a rollout of the vaccine by September.
“Pfizer, which is based in New York, and BioNTech injected the first human volunteers with their vaccine candidate, called BNT162, in Germany last month,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. “The experimental shot was given to just 12 healthy adults, although the trial will eventually expand to 200 participants.”
Here in the States, “the drug companies plan to test the vaccine on 360 healthy volunteers for the first stage of the study, adding up to 8,000 volunteers by the end of the second stage,” the Times adds. “The study will be conducted at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.”
If the vaccine were to obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the pharmaceutical giants “could distribute the first few million doses here,” said the Times.
The optimistic timeline, if the human trials prove safe and effective, is to have the drug rolled out by September, which Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr. Mikael Dolsten says is vital considering our next flu season.
“We need to think differently, we need to think faster,” said Dr. Dolsten. “If we get hit with a second wave of coronavirus infections in October at the same time as the flu, things will be much worse than what we’ve already experienced.”
Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking a vaccine “based on genetic material known as messenger RNA, which carries the instructions for cells to make proteins,” according to the Times. “By injecting a specially designed messenger RNA into the body, the vaccine could potentially tell cells how to make the spike protein of the coronavirus without actually making a person sick.”
“Because the virus typically uses this protein as a key to unlock and take over lung cells, the vaccine could train a healthy immune system to produce antibodies to fight off an infection,” the report explains. “The technology also has the advantage of being faster to produce, and tends to be more stable than traditional vaccines, which use weakened virus strains.”
The Trump administration recently announced “Operation Warp Speed” in an effort to get a speedy COVID-19 vaccination to the public. Of course, safety must be foremost, something President Donald Trump and leading coronavirus task force voice Dr. Anthony Fauci have routinely emphasized.
“We think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of this year,” Trump said on Fox News, this weekend. “And we’re pushing very hard. We’re building supply lines, now, we don’t even have the final vaccine.”
“We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it’s safe and it’s effective,” Fauci told NBC, last week. “I think that is doable if things fall in the right place.”
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