Pfizer Sets Wheels In Motion For Covid-19 Vaccine Production Ramp

Pfizer Inc (PFE) plans to shift more of its medicine production to outside contractors to prepare for potential large-scale production of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, Mike McDermott, president of global supply at Pfizer, told Reuters.

The company anticipates producing millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021. Three of its sites in the US (Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri) and one site in Belgium have been identified by the company as manufacturing centers for COVID-19 vaccine production, with more sites to be selected.

Current outside contractors that work with Pfizer include Catalent Inc, Lonza Group AG, and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.

“They have been hugely helpful in the past and will help us through this,” commented McDermott.

On May 5, Pfizer and BioNTech SE (BNTX) announced that the first participants have been dosed in the U.S. in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent Covid-19. The first stage of the Phase 1/2 trial in the U.S. will enroll up to 360 healthy subjects in two age groups (18-55 and 65-85), with the younger group to receive the vaccine candidate first.

The trial is part of a global development program, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed the previous week.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s development program includes four vaccine candidates, each representing a different combination of mRNA format and target antigen.

“We are optimistic that advancing multiple vaccine candidates into human trials will allow us to identify the safest, most effective vaccination options against COVID-19,” said CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin.

Overall, Wall Street analysts have a Moderate Buy consensus rating for Pfizer. Ratings are divided between 4 Buys and 3 Holds while the $42.22 average price target projects 13% upside potential for the drugmaker’s shares in the coming 12 months. (See Pfizer stock analysis on TipRanks). Shares are currently trading down 5% on a year-to-date basis.

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