‘It was a stretch’ to get covid vaccines so soon, Pfizer CEO says

Pfizer‘s CEO admitted he wasn’t sure his company would be able to make coronavirus vaccines available as quickly as they have, with the first doses given in the U.S. on Monday morning. 

‘I was hoping, and aspiring and I was driving everything so we could do it, but deep inside me, I thought it was a very stretch goal and there is a small possibility to make it, but we made it,’ Bourla said on Squawk Box.  

Pfizer developed and distributed the first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. within just 11 months of scientists working out the genome of the new virus to base the shot on. 

A New York nurse became the first American vaccinated on Monday morning. Vaccines are slated to arrive in all 50 states Monday morning, and Pfizer’s first 2.9 million doses of vaccine will be distributed cross the country beginning today. 

The development of Pfizer’s vaccine shatters all previous shot production timelines in the U.S. – usually running closer to a decade than a year – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing, that supply chain issues forcing the firm to scale back its hopeful 2020 global production from 100 million to 50 million. 

Pfizer plans to make up that shortfall in 2021, but the Trump administration allegedly turned down offers from the company to purchase more than the 100 million doses of its shot included in the initial vaccine deal. 

Now, the government is once more trying to negotiate the purchase of another 100 million doses of the 95 percent effective shot, Bourla told CNN, in an effort to get as many Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (right) admitted that he was surprised at how quickly the company managed to produce and ship a coronavirus vaccine. The first doses arrived in all 50 states Monday morning (left) and a New York nurse got the first U.S. vaccination 

Sandra Lindsay,  critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center was vaccinated Monday morning in Long Island, becoming the first person in the U.S. to get Pfizer's shot outside a clinical trial

Sandra Lindsay,  critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center was vaccinated Monday morning in Long Island, becoming the first person in the U.S. to get Pfizer’s shot outside a clinical trial 

Despite his uncertainty over whether Pfizer could make a vaccine before the end of the year, and the hitches in that process so far, Bourla now says he’s ‘confident’ and optimistic’ about supplying the world with COVID-19 vaccines over the coming year. 

Pfizer plans to distribute 1.3 billion doses worldwide next year. 

The $1.95 billion contract Pfizer signed with the U.S. in July guarantees Americans 100 million doses of the firm’s shot, with the option to buy more doses down the line. 

But the U.S. has to exercise that option before the doses are guaranteed to Americans. 

The New York Times reported last week that the Trump Administration had been offered the chances to purchase more of the vaccine, but had declined. 

Pfizer board member and former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb reiterated this allegation, saying the company approached the government twice.  

Bourla also revealed on CNN that the U.S. has requested to purchase another 100 million doses of Pfizer's coronavirus shot

Bourla also revealed on CNN that the U.S. has requested to purchase another 100 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus shot 

And now it may be too late for the federal government to get doses for until June or July, officials told the Washington Post last week. 

Pfizer has agreements to sell millions of doses of its vaccine to many other countries, including the UK and the European Union. 

U.S. officials have claimed they are unconcerned about supplying enough vaccine for Americans because Operation Warp Speed has multiple partnerships with other companies. 

On Friday, the U.S. exercised its first option to acquire additional doses of coronavirus vaccines, signing a deal worth an estimated $2.6 billion with Moderna for another 100 million doses of its vaccine by June. 

And Bourla confirmed that Pfizer is back in talks with U.S. officials to bolster the government’s supply of its vaccine too.  

‘The U.S. government is asking for more,’ said Bourla on CNN. 

‘They have asked now for an additional 100 million doses from us. We can provide them – the additional 100 million doses – but right now, most of that we can provide in the third quarter. 

The U.S. government wants them in the second quarter.’ 

He said Pfizer is working with the U.S. government on a solution to get Americans the extra does, but ‘we haven’t signed the agreement yet.’ 

The first 2.9 million of the 100 million doss for which the U.S. has a contract with Pfizer start rolling out today. Another 2.9 million are reserved as a second dose for those same people, to be given three weeks after their first shots. 

And 500,000 are being reserved by the company in case anything goes wrong with the other doses. 

U.S. officials plan to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the month, via a combination of Pfizer’s vaccine and Moderna’s, which is expected to get emergency approval after a Thursday FDA hearing. 

Moderna has reaffirmed that it can provide 20 million doses by year-end. 

But if the U.S. wants to give 20 million people both doses of either vaccine, Pfizer will have a long way to go to meet its end-of-year goal of 25 million doses, and keep up the speed next year to make 1.3 billion doses globally. 

‘I’m optimistic, Altways there are challenges, but most of them have been overcome,’ Bourla said on Squawkbox.

‘The 1.3 billion is our commitment to the world, but we are working to make much more.’   

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