While everyone is dealing with coronavirus restrictions this holiday weekend, scientists have been racing for a vaccine so we can get our lives back to normal.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer made a big splash this week, announcing its program with a German partner called Project Lightspeed, which has produced a potential coronavirus vaccine.
The Pfizer lab in Groton is playing a role, working to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“There are of course targets that we have to pass and more data that we need to generate, but I am optimistic and believe that we are on to something that is a very promising, new vaccine," said Dr. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer research chief.
Dolsten said 24 people given low doses of a vaccine the company is working on produced neutralizing antibodies, the ones that stop the virus from being able to infect cells.
Trial participant Melissa Honkanen talked with NBC News just as the trial began. “So many people are being affected, by this pandemic, and I figured, it was, it would be a great thing to do during an unprecedented time.”
Pfizer and German firm BioNtech explained the early-stage trials showed their vaccine produced mild to moderate reactions, including fever and pain at the point of injection.
“The preliminary data from the study shows that we can administrate our vaccine at the low effective dose, it’s well-tolerated," Dolsten said.
The two companies said a larger, global trial with as many as 30,000 healthy participants could begin as soon as this month.
If that is successful and the vaccine gets regulatory approval, Pfizer and BioNtech said they expect to make up to 100 million doses by the end of the year and potentially 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
“You want to make sure that you can shortly after a potential emergency use authorization…that you can supply the demand and the need for so many patients at risk and of course to put society back into a more normal operating environment," Dolsten said.
Pfizer and BioNtech have not said what their vaccine would cost. Just this week, the company making a drug that can minimize coronavirus symptoms for severely ill patients, said it will charge private insurers in the U.S. more than three thousand dollars for one person’s course of treatment.