UPDATE: Kalamazoo key to manufacturing COVID-19 trial vaccine

"Manufacturing will continue in Kalamazoo as long as patients need the vaccine." - Pfizer's Kim Bencker

Pfizer Inc. on Tuesday said that clinical trials of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 are underway in Germany and the United States – and its Kalamazoo County facility is ramping up production.

“Kalamazoo is the largest and most diverse manufacturing site in the Pfizer network,” said Pfizer spokesperson Kim Bencker.

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Bencker said the Kalamazoo facility is trusted to quickly adapt a new process to scale and produce mass quantities.

“Manufacturing will continue in Kalamazoo as long as patients need the vaccine. Because of the urgent need for a vaccine, Pfizer has already begun to invest, at risk, to actively scale up our manufacturing capacity and distribution infrastructure.”

The trial is of “four mRNA vaccine candidates,” Pfizer said in a joint press release with immunotherapy company BioNTech SE.

“In anticipation of a successful clinical development program, Pfizer and BioNTech are working to scale up production for global supply,” the statement said. “The breadth of this program should allow production of millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021.”

“Kalamazoo will receive the drug substance and formulate it with the lipids, which will then be filled and packaged into vials under strict temperature controlled conditions,” said Bencker. “Once the vials are inspected and approved, they will get shipped out of Kalamazoo and ready for patients.”

The first participants in Germany were dosed last week, Pfizer said. In the United States, clinical trials are underway at four locations: NYU School of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

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