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Missouri Plays Key Role in Developing Successful COVID-19 Vaccine

Pfizer Inc., a health innovation company, recently announced that its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 among those without evidence of prior infection, hailing the development as “a great day for science and humanity.”

“I think we can see light at the end of the tunnel,” said Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla. “I believe this is likely the most significant medical advance in the last 100 years, if you count the impact this will have in public health, global economy.”

Missouri has played a key role in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Pfizer’s facility in the St. Louis region is one of three Pfizer sites used as initial U.S. manufacturing centers for COVID-19 vaccine production.

According to Pfizer, the Chesterfield, Missouri, 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.”

Pfizer said that they will seek an Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this month, with plans to have up to 50 million doses ready globally this year and up to 1.3 billion doses manufactured in 2021.

Pfizer’s results were based on the first efficacy analysis conducted by an external and independent data monitoring committee from the phase three clinical study. The independent group of experts oversees U.S. clinical trials to ensure the safety of participants.

The analysis evaluated 94 confirmed COVID-19 infections among the trial’s 43,538 participants. Pfizer said the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received a placebo indicated a vaccine efficacy rate of above 90% at seven days after the second dose. It means that protection from COVID-19 is achieved 28 days after the initial vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule.

Pfizer’s $236 million research and development facility in Chesterfield was designed to support the development of potential new medicines and vaccines.

The 295,000 sq. ft. facility employs around 450 people, and is home to Pfizer’s BioTherapeutics Pharmaceutical Sciences group, which develops manufacturing processes, dosage forms and analytics for clinical and commercial purposes in areas such as oncology, rare disease, internal medicine, inflammation and immunology and vaccines. The R&D facility also works to develop innovative gene therapy manufacturing technologies and solutions.

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