Pfizer begins human trials of potential coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer begins human trials of potential coronavirus vaccine
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Pfizer and the German company BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have begun human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine. 

The first stage of the trial will involve up to 360 people, testing measures like whether the vaccine is safe and what the right dosage level is. 

The move is part of a worldwide scramble to try to get a vaccine for the deadly disease far quicker than has ever been done before. 

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Pfizer and BioNTech are actually testing four vaccine candidates at the same time, all different versions of what is known as an mRNA vaccine. The companies hope testing all four vaccines will allow the process to move faster by seeing which one works the best. 

“We are optimistic that advancing multiple vaccine candidates into human trials will allow us to identify the safest, most effective vaccination options against COVID-19,” said BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.

The companies are already preparing to ramp up production of the potential vaccine. Experts say that a key step in speeding up the process is starting to manufacture the vaccine even before it is clear whether it works.

“Pfizer plans to activate its extensive manufacturing network and invest at risk in an effort to produce an approved COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible for those most in need around the world,” the company said in a press release. “The breadth of this program should allow production of millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021.”

A range of other vaccine efforts, including from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Oxford University, are underway as well. 

The Trump administration has set an ambitious goal of having millions of doses available by January, which would be far faster than a vaccine has ever been ready before. 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically Fauci's DC neighbors put up 'thank you' signs in their yards Cuomo says New York schools can reopen in-person this fall MORE, the government’s top infectious disease expert, told NBC last week that rapid timeline is “doable if things fall in the right place.”