One of the companies working to produce a COVID-19 vaccine has a large presence in Montgomery County, Maryland, where local chambers of commerce received a briefing Thursday detailing progress.
The U.S. government has essentially purchased 300 million doses of vaccine; 100 million are expected to be ready by fall and another 200 million by January 2021.
“That can actually only be obtained by starting to manufacture the product now,” said Julie Garner of the global bio pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca during the Zoom call Thursday hosted by the Gaithersburg-Germantown, Clarksburg and Poolesville chambers of commerce.
“Another Maryland-based company, Emergent, in my hometown of Baltimore, will be manufacturing the drug substance,” Garner said.
As manufacturing of the vaccine proceeds, there still are many unknowns, such as whether the vaccine will be a “one and done” dose, such as with measles, or something needed yearly.
“We don’t know. Some of the initial data indicates perhaps one (shot), but it’s just too soon to tell,” Garner said.
Other questions involve potential side effects, whether the vaccine will be effective among different age groups and ethnicities, and whether it ultimately will be approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“We’re in clinical trials, actually, across the world right now,” Garner said.
Fast-tracking development, production and delivery of the drug is in no way compromising safety, according to Garner, who explained that no shortcuts are being taken. There’s just a lot of collaboration among companies working to quickly create a vaccine that works.
“What all the five leading candidates are doing is sharing information in real-time,” she said.
“We need to have multiple manufactures be successful. We will likely not be able to get out of this pandemic unless we have multiple vaccines,” Garner said. “This is an entire global community effort.”
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