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Pfizer exec 'confident' in ability to deliver 2 billion coronavirus vaccine doses this year

Pfizer exec 'confident' in ability to deliver 2 billion coronavirus vaccine doses this year
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An executive at Pfizer said he and the company are “confident” in its ability to deliver 2 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year in an interview with the Associated Press published Sunday.

“Right now, we can potentially deliver approximately 2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021,” Mike McDermott, the president of global supply at Pfizer, told the AP.

“We are confident in this commitment, but of course are constantly looking for ways to make and distribute more doses faster,” he added. 

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McDermott, who has worked at Pfizer for 30 years, said in his interview that the company is working to increase the efficiency of vaccine development, through methods including adding more manufacturing lines, using contract manufacturers and doubling batch sizes. 

“There is a dire need to vaccinate more people quickly,” he said. “We are expanding our capacity to make more vaccine as quickly as possible.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine became the first approved in the U.S. in December. But since then, more contagious COVID-19 variants, first discovered in the U.K. and South Africa have made their way to the U.S., sparking concern about the current vaccines’ effectiveness against the strains. 

McDermott said Pfizer’s construction of the virus’s messenger RNA genetic code is “the perfect science to be able to make modifications quickly” if needed.

“In essence there would be no changes to the manufacturing network,” he said. “That altered genetic material would come into the system – and production would begin immediately on a new vaccine version.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech is one of two vaccines, along with the Moderna vaccine, approved for emergency use in the U.S., both requiring two doses. 

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More than 27.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered in the country, compared to more than 25.5 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In the meantime, the CDC has documented 981 cases of the variant first found in the U.K. across 37 states and 13 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa across five states.

Early data has indicated that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can help protect against the mutations in these two variants.