U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech said they began their late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday, July 27 as pharmaceutical companies race to win regulatory approval before the end of the year, CNBC reports.
The trial will include up to 30,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 85 across 120 sites globally, including 39 U.S. states, the companies announced. If it is successful, they expect to submit it for final regulatory review as early as October. They plan to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
The decision to start the trial reflects “our primary goal to bring a well-tolerated, highly effective vaccine to the market as quickly as possible, while we will continue to evaluate our other vaccine candidates as part of a differentiated COVID-19 vaccine portfolio,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a release. “Many steps have been taken towards this important milestone and we would like to thank all those involved for their extraordinary commitment.”
The companies’ experimental vaccine uses messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA molecules, to provoke an immune response to fight the virus. Scientists hope mRNA, which relays genetic instructions from DNA, can be used to train the immune system to recognize and destroy the virus.
The announcement from the two companies came the same day biotech firm Moderna, which is also developing a leading vaccine candidate, said it began its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial. That trial will also include 30,000 participants. The company said it remains on track to deliver between 500 million and 1 billion doses per year starting next year.