COVID-19 vaccine being manufactured in Kalamazoo

WZZM

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Pfizer and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech announced Tuesday that the first U.S. participants have been dosed with a COVID-19 vaccine as part of a global clinical trial. 

The BNT162 vaccine program is meant to prevent the novel coronavirus, and participants in Germany were dosed last week, according to a press release. 

Pfizer and BioNTech are working to scale up production for a global supply assuming the trial is a success. Pfizer has already selected locations in Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri and Puurs, Belgium as manufacturing centers for the vaccine, and more locations are expected to be announced. 

The company’s Michigan site in Kalamazoo is it’s largest manufacturing facility and will be used for the initial manufacturing of the vaccines following the trial. The two companies say they expect to produce millions of vaccine doses in 2020, and hundreds of millions in 2021. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded Pfizer Inc. on Tuesday, May 5, after the announcement was made. 

“This is great news for our families, our neighbors, and those serving on the front lines during this crisis,” Whitmer said in a statement. “COVID-19 has shown how vulnerable our country is when it comes to supply chain and much of the lifesaving materials we need are manufactured out of the country.”

Sen. Sean McCann, D- Kalamazoo, said this is potentially great news as over a million people suffer from the virus in the U.S. 

“All of us are looking to the best and brightest scientists in the world for medical advances that could begin to restore a sense of normalcy and hope for the future. Pfizer is delivering on that front, and the fact that we could possibly manufacture a cure in our own backyard says volumes about the quality industry and community we have here,” McCann said in a statement. 

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said in a statement he was delighted to see Pfizer choose the Kalamazoo facility for this work. 

“The entire industry is working together and committed to develop and produce a vaccine as quickly as possible. We know that a vaccine is the only true way for us to get back to normal and begin on our road to recovery. That recovery begins with Pfeizer’s exciting developments here in Kalamazoo,” Upton said.

The first stage of the clinical trials is happening at four sites across the country: NYU School of Medicine; University of Maryland School of Medicine; University of Rochester School of Medicine; and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 

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