A pharmaceutical company has delivered samples of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus to laboratories in the U.S. for human testing, with a view toward widespread distribution of the medicine by the end of the year, NPR News reports.
U.S. drug manufacturer Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, announced this week that human trials of the vaccine it's developing should be underway soon and may have tens of millions of vials of the medicine ready for distribution by this winter.
Already, 360 human test subjects in the U.S. have received doses of one of several potential vaccines the company is working on, while another 200 have received it in Germany.
Pfizer is working on four iterations of the same vaccine and plans to monitor the human test subjects over the course of the next few months to see which specific vaccine at which dose is most effective against the coronavirus, as well as which versions are the safest. After those key elements have been identified, the testing will be moved to further testing on more groups under those conditions.
Specifically, the company is at work on what's known as an mRNA vaccine, which differs from more conventional vaccines. Traditional vaccines use a deactivated pathogen, to which the body's immune system develops antibodies that will protect the patient should they contract a viable pathogen. The mRNA vaccine, by comparison, merely contains a genetic sequence, rather than an entire pathogen.
Should the human trials prove effective, the companies hope that patients will start getting the vaccine by winter. Initially, it would be deployed to epicenters of the virus, Pfizer research chief Mikael Dolsten told Reuters. As manufacturing ramps up, eventually hundreds of millions -- or even billions -- of people could get vaccinated.
Philip Dormitzer, vice president and chief scientific officer for viral vaccines at Pfizer, said that its partnership with the German facility means that two key players in the pharmaceutical industry are teaming up to beat the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Pfizer brings in expertise in infectious disease and vaccine development in vaccine manufacturing. So it's a real partnership.... Pfizer has the broad set of capabilities of major vaccine companies, a major pharmaceutical company, and BioNTech brings in real expertise in these RNA platforms," he explained.
Pfizer is one of multiple companies, universities, and private research facilities trying to get a COVID-19 vaccine ready for the public as quickly as possible. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Dr. Anthony Fauci has previously stated that he's confident a vaccine will be ready by this winter.