Pfizer says that its coronavirus vaccine could be ready by this fall and that US testing could start as early as next week

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A Pfizer logo in Toluca, Mexico. Reuters
  • The US and German pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech have partnered to develop a coronavirus vaccine that they hope could be available for emergency use by the fall,The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
  • The companies said they had already given the vaccine to 12 healthy people in Germany and were preparing to scale testing up to 200 people in the next phase.
  • Pfizer said the companies could begin testing in the US as soon as next week, The Journal reported. They said on Wednesday that they expected approval “shortly.”
  • The companies join at least 70 other groups racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine on vastly accelerated schedules.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech could be ready for emergency use by this fall, Pfizer’s CEO told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

The two companies said in a statement on Wednesday that they began giving the experimental shot to 12 people in Germany on Thursday. The data from this trial is expected “as early as June this year,” a BioNTech representative told Business Insider.

They are now waiting on approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin testing in the US, which they said they expected “shortly.” The Journal reported that Pfizer said it could begin as early as next week.

In the next phase, the companies plan to try different doses of the vaccine in 200 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55, BioNTech said.


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Though it usually takes years for a vaccine to be tested and fully approved, the FDA can grant emergency-use authorizations for experimental use of a treatment or equipment during a public-health emergency. It has already issued EUAs for different forms of personal protective equipment and ventilators.

“We are leaving no stone unturned as we explore every option to help provide society with a treatment or cure,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement earlier this month about the company’s work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pfizer and BioNTech are among several companies that have joined a vastly accelerated race to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

By mid-April, the World Health Organisation had documented 70 efforts to create a vaccine. The drugmakers CanSino, Moderna, and Inovio have each announced the beginning of human trials for their experimental vaccines.

Fauci now
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech are not the only ones hoping to have a vaccine ready for emergency use by fall. The US biotech Moderna has said its vaccine could be ready then as well.

On Thursday, Oxford University’s Oxford Vaccine Group announced it had injected a trial vaccine into two human subjects and raised the possibility that it could be ready for emergency use in coronavirus patients by September.

Johnson & Johnson also hopes to have a vaccine ready for emergency use in early 2021.


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Here’s how 13 top drugmakers are sprinting to develop a coronavirus vaccine or treatment that can halt this pandemic

Extraordinary efforts are being made to shave time off a process that normally takes years. In early March, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious-disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, said it could take at least 18 months to develop a vaccine. And experts have warned of the risks of skipping steps such as animal testing.

Some groups have found other ways to shorten the process. The Serum Institute of India is preparing 40 million units of the vaccine being used in the Oxford trial despite not knowing whether it will work, Business Insider’s Bill Bostock reported.