As the coronavirus pandemic has worn on, everyone has anxiously awaited the arrival of a vaccine. Currently, two COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States: the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. Now, Pzifer, Inc., has announced that it can supply the United States with 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May 2021, which is two months earlier than it had previously promised.
According to Bloomberg, Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla said that Pfizer (along with its partner, BioNTechSE) plans to produce a total of 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, which is a 50% increase over the original estimate.
Pfizer is able to accelerate the delivery of doses because of a change in the vaccine’s label that allows providers to extract an additional dose from each vial (so each vial will provide six doses instead of five).
Amid concerns about new strains of the coronavirus, the company is also working on boosters that will protect against new variants as they arise.
“Every time a new variant comes up we should be able to test whether or not [our vaccine] is effective,” Bourla told Bloomberg. “Once we discover that it is not as effective, we will very, very quickly be able to produce a booster dose that will be a small variation to the current vaccine.”
Many nations around the world are currently struggling with a vaccine shortage. Nearly 1.3% of the global population has been infected with COVID-19, and more than 2.1 million people have died.
The U.S. is among the worst-affected countries, along with India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom. So far, at least 64 million doses of the vaccine against coronavirus have been administered worldwide.
A third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is on the horizon, and unlike the two current vaccines, it will only require a single dose.
“If this vaccine proves to be safe and effective, it could have major implications for the vaccine rollout because J&J has committed to producing and deploying at least a billion doses of vaccine during this calendar year, including at least 100 million doses for the U.S. population,” Dr. Dan Barouch of Harvard Medical School, who helped develop Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate, said during an appearance on CNN’s Coronavirus Fact vs. Fiction podcast.