JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) During Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing, Missouri Governor Mike Parson was joined by Christine Smith, head of the Pfizer Biotherapeutics and Pharmaceutical Sciences Department and site head of Pfizer’s Research and Development facility in Chesterfield.
Pfizer’s Chesterfield facility is one of three Pfizer-owned sites in the United States that has been identified as an initial manufacturing center for COVID-19 vaccine production.
“For Missourians to feel safe going forward, we must be able to develop a COVID-19 vaccine,” Governor Parson said. “We are proud the Pfizer facility right here in Chesterfield, Missouri, is helping lead the charge on this critically important global development.”
This week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, a German pharmaceutical company, began human trials for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. The trial is part of a global development program. Dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week.
Pfizer and BioNTech are developing messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Their development program includes four vaccine candidates, each representing a different combination of mRNA format and target antigen.
“We are working closely with regulatory authorities to develop, test, and manufacture a potential mRNA-based vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 infection at an unprecedented pace,” Pfizer Biotherapeutics and Pharmaceutical Sciences Department Head Christine Smith said in today’s briefing. “We are leveraging our decades of scientific expertise in pioneering vaccine discovery and development to respond to this global health crisis.”
Pfizer and BioNTech are currently investigating whether the vaccine candidates will be safe and effective against COVID-19. Each of the four vaccine candidates is potentially being tested in three different doses and two different age populations in a single Phase 1/2 study.
Pfizer is scaling up methods and processes at its Chesterfield site that may be required to produce large volumes if a vaccine is approved. The company is also actively scaling up its manufacturing capacity and distribution infrastructure in Chesterfield to make the vaccine available, if shown to be safe and effective, as quickly as possible.
Subject to technical success and regulatory approvals, the breadth of this program could allow production of millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021.
Along with the Chesterfield facility, Pfizer owned-sites in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Puurs, Belgium, have also been identified as manufacturing centers for COVID-19 vaccine production. Through its existing mRNA production sites in Mainz and Idar-Oberstein, Germany, BioNTech plans to ramp up its production capacity to provide further capacities for a global supply of the potential vaccine.
In addition to today’s press briefing, Governor Parson also visited HyVee and Orscheln Farm & Home in Jefferson City to meet with leadership and discuss the state’s “Show Me Strong Recovery” Plan.
As an essential business, Orscheln’s has been following Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting and has taken steps to ensure proper social distancing can be maintained. Similarly, HyVee has implemented several measures to improve social distancing and sanitation:
- “Senior-shopping” from 6 a.m. – 8 a.m.
- Employees must wear masks/face coverings
- One-way aisles
- Extensive cleaning of high touch items such as shopping carts
- Social distancing markers and Plexiglas window panels at checkout
HyVee’s Aisles Online program has also seen a 400 percent increase, allowing shoppers to order groceries online and pick them up at the store without leaving their vehicle.