Pfizer will be able to manufacture between 50 to 100 million doses of its Omicron variant-specific Covid vaccine, the company said Monday.
The company’s vaccine – which is a joint effort with the German company BioNTech – is the most popular in the U.S. and in much of the world.
The rise of the Omicron variant, which can evade protection provided by the existing crop of vaccines, has sent pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers into a race to produce a shot that is effective against the mutant strain, same as what occurred when Covid first emerged.
Pfizer believes it will be able to start testing of a new Omicron-specific vaccine as early as late-January, and could have the jab ready for use by March.
Pfizer plans to produce anywhere between 50 to 100 million shots of its Omicron specific COVID-19 vaccine between now and the end of spring. The company plans to begin trials for the shots as early as late January (file photo)
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (pictured) has said that Covid will be around for the next decade, but shots produced by his company may be able to control the virus. His company’s shot is already the most popularly used in the U.S., and in much of the world
Albert Bourla, CEO of the firm, said Monday that his company would absorb the risk of producing the shots, and manufacture them before a purchase contract is in place with governments and world health officials.
‘In terms of manufacturing, we have so big of a capacity built right now, that it won’t be an issue to switch immediately,’ Bourla said at a news conference Monday.
A company representative then told the Washington Post that between 50 to 100 million doses of the vaccine will be available by late March and early April.
Pfizer has produced billions of vaccine doses to be used around the world, including 375 million doses delivered to the U.S.
The shot has been administered more than 300 million times in the states, and have fully vaccinated 117 million people. It is also the only shot available to minors in the U.S., having been authorized for children aged five and older.
Bourla has been a proponent of repeated Covid boosters. On Monday, he told CNBC’s The Squawk Box that the virus will likely be around for the next decade, but frequent shots could help get in under control.
‘We will have perfectly normal lives, with just injection maybe once a year,’ he said.
The success of the shot has led to a large windfall for the New York based firm, with an analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance finding that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna – producer of the second most popular vaccine – make a combined profit of over $1,000 every second.
Continued use of the vaccines for the next decade will likely keep that figure high.
Pfizer has also been accused of using its leverage and control over the jabs to take advantage of developing nations.
Denying them their ability to receive donations of the shots, and even writing clauses into contracts that would allow the company to seize state assets.
The company even worked to get around intellectual property rights for vaccine technology in other countries, as Bourla publicly called the idea of doing so in America ‘dangerous’, according to a report by Public Citizen last year.
Some global health authorities also fear that this sudden shift towards the development of vaccine resistant Covid boosters could leave many nations in the developing world behind.
In Africa, for example, only 15 percent of residents have received at least one shot of a vaccine, and less than 10 percent are fully vaccinated.
Bourla said Monday that the issue in these nations was not a lack of vaccines being given to them, but instead them not having the ability to administer the shots, and vaccine hesitancy in these nations.
‘Particularly in low income countries, they have more than they can absorb right now,’ he said.
‘I think all the effort should be, right now… to build the infrastructure in low income countries so they can absorb more vaccines. Also, the campaigns that will convince the population [to get the shots].’