First patients receive potential COVID-19 jabs - Pfizer Poland head

2020-05-13 12:12 update: 2020-05-13, 20:25
Photo PAP/EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT
Photo PAP/EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT
A group of 12 people have received a potential vaccine against the COVID-19 disease as part of clinical trials carried out in Germany, Pfizer Poland Country Manager Dorota Hryniewiecka-Firlej has said in an interview with PAP.

The German tests will involve 200 healthy volunteers aged 18-55, while in the US the test group will comprise 360 healthy persons in two age cohorts: 18-55 and 65-85.

The first German vaccination took palace on April 23, and clinical trials have also begun recently in the United States, Hryniewiecka-Firlej said.

Over the past several weeks, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have completed a process that usually takes 12 months, and received the go-ahead from Germany's regulator, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, to run the I/II stage of a clinical trial of the BNT162 vaccine against COVID-19, Hryniewiecka-Firlej said.

Clinical trials comprise four stages, and each of them must end in a positive result before the trials can proceed to the next one.

Pfizer and BioNTech have developed four potential vaccines, including ones that are based on DNA and RNA nucleic acids. They contain a synthesized section of the virus mRNA that codes the virus's structural protein and to which the human immune system subsequently reacts. They are faster to develop and mass produce compared to a traditional vaccine that contains inactive or weakened forms of the virus.

Each of the four potential vaccines represents a different mRNA vaccine format and different target antigens, Hryniewiecka-Firlej said.

The country manager said that the company has the capacity to deliver millions of vaccines by the end of 2020, but this will also depend on "technical success" and the potential green light from regulators. Subsequently, in 2021, the capacity could be boosted to hundreds of millions of vaccines, she added.

Hryniewiecka-Firlej said the coronavirus epidemic has highlighted the importance of vaccination in protecting societies against lethal diseases. Vaccination has also been recommended by the Polish Health Ministry, she added. (PAP)

jd/ jch/