ST. LOUIS — St. Louis is playing a key role the development of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. on Monday said is producing encouraging clinical results.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and German firm BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) said Monday that their joint COVID-19 vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing the disease in drug trial volunteers who had no evidence of a prior coronavirus infection. The results were determined through an efficacy analysis of the vaccine’s phase 3 clinical trial, which is ongoing.
Pfizer's facility in Chesterfield is one of three of the company's sites used as initial U.S. manufacturing centers for COVID-19 vaccine production.
According to Pfizer, the local plant is the primary site of raw materials production for the vaccine. Scientists in Chesterfield are producing the "plasmid DNA" that Pfizer described as the "template required to manufacture the mRNA vaccine." Once the DNA template is produced using a cell culture process, it is then purified and "linearized," before being sent to a different Pfizer facility in Andover, Massachusetts.
In Andover, the template DNA is incubated with the building blocks of the mRNA molecule to make a drug substance. That drug substance is then purified and shipped to a final Pfizer facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to be formulated into a vaccine. The bulk vaccine will then be filled into sterilized vials before being labeled, packed, blast frozen and held in storage freezers until the vaccine is ready for final packing and shipping.
Pfizer and BioNtech said that later this month they will seek from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine, with plans to have up to 50 million doses ready globally this year and up to 1.3 billion doses manufactured in 2021.
News of the vaccine's progress sent markets soaring, leading the S&P 500 and the Dow to new record highs. Pfizer's shares closed Monday at $39.19, a 7.7% increase.
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