Pfizer wants to expand human trials of coronavirus vaccine to thousands of people by September, CEO says


A logo for Pfizer is displayed on a monitor on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, July 29, 2019.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla said Tuesday that the company plans to expand human trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine to thousands of test patients by September. 

The U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant, which is working alongside German drugmaker BioNTech, injected doses of its potential vaccine, BNT162, into the first human participants in the U.S. last week. The company said it hopes to test up to 360 people in the clinical trial.

Pfizer is currently testing four different vaccine variations, Bourla said during CNBC’s Healthy Returns Virtual Summit.

“We are collecting data as we speak in real time so we know, we are monitoring the safety of the doses,” Bourla said. Pfizer will have conclusive data on which vaccine variation stands out in June or July, Bourla said.

If one or two variations indicate success, the company will ramp up trials, and then in September launch a broad large-scale study with thousands of participants if a vaccine proves to be successful, he added.

“If things go well, and we feel that the product is safe and efficacious, and the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and EMA [European Medicines Agency] and other regulatory agencies feel the same, we will be able to deliver millions of doses in the October time frame,” Bourla said. 

The company plans to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021, he added. 

There are no FDA-approved therapies to treat Covid-19, and drugmakers are racing to produce a vaccine, which U.S. health officials say is expected to take at least 12 to 18 months. There were more than 100 vaccines in development globally as of April 30, according to the World Health Organization. 

— CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.



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