Rockland County is once again leading the way during a time of crisis. Pfizer, whose research and development efforts are mainly conducted right here in Pearl River, announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) placed a $1.95 billion initial order for 100 million doses of an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19. This is extremely positive news, but it is merely one of the first steps in the process of manufacturing a successful vaccine.
Next, Pfizer must conduct a safety and efficacy trial which they are on track to begin later this month. If that trial is successful, they can seek regulatory review as early as October of this year; this would be given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer believes they could then manufacture up to 100 million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.
They have already begun increasing their large-scale manufacturing capacity to ensure that vaccine would be available immediately if their clinical trials prove successful and FDA approval is given.
I am so proud of the work being done by Pfizer at their Pearl River campus. Recently their head of vaccine research and development said she looks at this like a war, “The world is in a race to develop vaccines and therapies against COVID-19, the enemy. Nothing aligns humankind more than a common enemy. We are all in it together.”
I couldn’t agree more with this assessment as it is this approach and sense of urgency that will make the impossible possible. The agreement between Pfizer and HHS also allows for the U.S. to buy an additional 500 million doses of vaccine if that becomes necessary. All told, Pfizer is prepared to manufacture as many as 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
And good news for all of those who have been financially impacted by this pandemic. Americans will be able to receive the vaccine for free, consistent with the U.S. government’s commitment to free access to COVID-19 vaccines.
While this is not by any means a done deal, it is an incredibly positive step for Rockland, our country, and the entire world. But until the day arrives that we are safe from this deadly disease we must remember that indeed we are all in this together. And together we must continue to follow our motto of “Safety First, People Always,” and take commonsense precautions; wash your hands, maintain social distancing and wear a face covering if you need to be close to anyone outside of your household.
I know that together we will get through this and that we will come out stronger than ever before on the other side.