The drug company Pfizer plans to perform initial manufacturing of a clinical trial COVID-19 vaccine in Kalamazoo, the company announced Tuesday.

The initial clinical supply of the BNT 162 vaccine will come from BioNTech facilities in Europe, but Pfizer and BioNTech plan to scale up production in the U.S. for global supply on the expectation that the clinical trial will work.

Initial U.S. manufacturing will take place in Kalamazoo, and the overall supply will be made in Andover, Massachusetts and Chesterfield, Missouri.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a Tuesday statement that the new drug was “great news” for front line workers and that plans to manufacture the drug in the U.S. would help to ensure an accessible supply chain.

“That’s why we are so proud that one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the world is the Pfizer site right here in Kalamazoo, Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement. “In fact, Michigan has a strong history of vaccine development with the polio and anthrax vaccines.”

Production at Pfizer’s U.S. sites is expected to yield millions of vaccine doses in 2020 and hundreds of millions in 2021, according to a statement from Pfizer and BioNTech SE.

The companies announced Tuesday that the first U.S. participants in the clinical trial had received doses of the vaccine at New York University Grossman Schools of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The companies dosed the first participants in Germany last week and plans to expand to other sites across the U.S. later this year.

“The short, less than four-month timeframe in which we’ve been able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary and further demonstrates our commitment to dedicating our best-in-class resources, from the lab to manufacturing and beyond, in the battle against COVID-19,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a Tuesday statement.

The current phase of the study will assess the dose level, safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine, Pfizer and BioNTech said in a statement. Four vaccine candidates will be administered to individuals to assess the efficacy of each.  

“We are optimistic that advancing multiple vaccine candidates into human trials will allow us to identify the safest, most effective vaccination options against COVID-19,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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