Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE expects younger teens to be eligible for coronavirus vaccination in the fall, and elementary school children by the end of the year, the company’s chief executive Albert Bourla said on Thursday.
In the United States, the vaccine is authorized for use in people aged 16 or older. Bourla said the company plans to submit data for children aged 12 to 16 very soon.
He said his assumption was that the vaccine should be authorized for that age range by the fall, adding that data on children aged 5 to 11 can be expected by year-end.
The companies will also exceed their original global target for COVID-19 vaccines by as much as 20 per cent this year, producing 2.3 billion to 2.4 billion doses, Bourla said.
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE released real-world data from Israel earlier on Thursday showing their vaccine was 94% effective in preventing asymptomatic infections, suggesting it could significantly reduce virus transmission.
“These are stunning numbers that are giving us a clear indication that liberation is coming,” Bourla said in an interview on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic.
“It is a testament to the power of science, and the power of human ingenuity.”
More than 2.7 million people around the world have died from COVID-19 so far.
Bourla said that by the fourth quarter of this year, Pfizer and BioNTech will reach a 3 billion dose a year production run rate, and should be able to produce that much next year.
The companies will clearly exceed their original target of 2 billion doses in 2021, he said.
Pfizer has said it expects revenue of at least $15 billion from its half of the vaccine sales this year.
Middle-income countries will pay around half the price as high income countries for their doses, and low income countries will get the vaccine at cost, Bourla said.
Pfizer expects to meet its commitment of supplying 120 million coronavirus vaccine doses to the U.S. government by the end of March. That would require them to deliver another 60 million doses over the next three weeks.
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“Those have already been manufactured” and are currently being tested for quality, he said.
“Unless a batch (of vaccine) fails, we will be able to provide them. Our track record is that our batches don’t fail,” he said.
Pfizer‘s German partner BioNTech began developing the vaccine last January and the U.S. drugmaker signed on in early March as the health crisis accelerated. Their vaccine received its first regulatory authorizations in December.
— By Michael Erman, additional reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; with files from Global News