Pfizer has called on the biopharmaceutical industry to join the company in committing to unprecedented collaboration to combat COVID-19.
“In this troubling time, Pfizer is committed to doing all we can to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Albert Bourla, the company’s Chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Many companies, including Pfizer, are working to develop antiviral therapies to help infected patients fight this emerging virus as well as new vaccines to prevent infection and halt the further spread of this disease. Pfizer is working to advance our own potential antiviral therapies and is engaged with BioNTech on a potential mRNA coronavirus vaccine. We are committed to work as one team across the industry to harness our scientific expertise, technical skills and manufacturing capabilities to combat this evolving crisis.”
The collaboration with BioNTech involves the joint conducting of clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine candidates, initially across multiple research sites in the U.S. and Europe. The companies estimate that there is potential to supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020, subject to technical success of the development program and approval from the regulatory authorities. Capacity would then be scaled up to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021.
In addition, Pfizer is cooperating with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s Respiratory Infection Clinical Research Group on studies of whether existing Pfizer medicines may be useful in treating COVID-19 patients.
As a matter of principle, Pfizer has committed itself to five measures to help scientists rapidly develop therapies and vaccines to provide protection from the escalating pandemic and prepare industry to better respond to future global health crises:
1. Sharing tools and insights. Since so little is known about this virus, many are working to develop cell-based assays, viral screening, serological assays, and translational models to test potential therapies and vaccines. Pfizer will make the vital tools we develop available on an open source platform to the broader scientific community and to share the data and learnings gained with other companies in real time to rapidly advance therapies and vaccines to patients.
2. Marshalling our people. Human capital is our most valuable resource. Pfizer has created a SWAT team of our leading virologists, biologists, chemists, clinicians, epidemiologists, vaccine experts, pharmaceutical scientists, and other key experts to focus solely on addressing this pandemic. This team is applying their passion, commitment, and expertise to accelerating the discovery and development process that will deliver therapies and vaccines to patients as soon as possible.
3. Applying our drug development expertise. Many smaller biotech companies are screening compounds or existing therapies for activity against the virus causing COVID-19, but some lack the experience in late-stage development and navigating the complex regulatory systems. Pfizer is committed to sharing our clinical development and regulatory expertise to support the most promising candidates these companies bring forward.
4. Offering our manufacturing capabilities. Once a therapy or vaccine is approved, it will need to be rapidly scaled and deployed around the world to put an end to this pandemic. As one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines and therapeutics, Pfizer is committed to using any excess manufacturing capacity and to potentially shifting production to support others in rapidly getting these life-saving breakthroughs into the hands of patients as quickly as possible.
5. Improving future rapid response. To address future global health threats, Pfizer is reaching out to U.S. federal agencies including NIH, NIAID, and CDC to build a cross-industry rapid response team of scientists, clinicians, and technicians able to move into action immediately when future epidemics surface.
“In recent years, the biopharmaceutical industry has brought forward some of the most impactful medical breakthroughs known to society, from therapies for HIV and cancer that have extended millions of lives to novel gene therapies that are seeing cure-like outcomes for some the most devastating rare diseases,” said Albert Bourla. “Pfizer calls on all members of the innovation ecosystem – from large pharmaceutical companies to the smallest of biotech companies, from government agencies to academic institutions – to commit to work together in addressing this dire crisis. With our combined efforts we know that there is no health challenge that we cannot overcome.”