Pfizer boss details investment into vaccine technologies

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Bosses at the drug giant have said that the funding will help to speed up vaccination rollouts by cutting out some of the steps that are currently required.

Speaking to Sky News today, Pfizer’s UK Manager Ben Osborn said: “Throughout this financial year, Pfizer will now be investing $10.9billion across our R&D portfolio.

“There is a significant proportion that is going into Covid-related science both in terms of the vaccine and the anti-viral.”

Mr Osborn suggested that the funding could bring about new versions of the vaccine which could prove to be successful in fighting against the virus.

He told Sky News: “We expect to see new formulations coming early in 2022 which will make the vaccine for instance easier to use.

“So removing that dilution step and essentially allowing the NHS to draw up the vaccine and vaccinate immediately without any of the steps that we’re taking right now.”

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine requires a dilution step to prepare the vaccine, one of a number of steps needed to be taken before the vaccine is administered.

But by Pfizer investing funds to advance their vaccine technology, they are hoping to cut those steps down to speed up the vaccination process and help the population to get vaccinated quicker.

Mr Osborn had also earlier mentioned the announcement that their new anti-viral drug, which cut the risk of death hospitalization by 89 percent in trials, is expected to be rolled out in early 2022.

While oral anti-viral treatments from Pfizer and pharmaceutical company Merck have proved shown to be effective at reducing the danger to high-risk COVID-19 patients, experts have warned that these should not replace vaccines.

Preliminary results of a survey of 3,000 U.S. citizens by the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health showed that the drugs may “hamper the effort to get people vaccinated”, according to Scott Ratzan, an expert in health communication at CUNY, who led the research.

Mr Ratzan said that one out of every eight of those surveyed said they would rather get treated with a pill than being vaccinated.

Despite the antiviral drugs slashing the risk of death and hospitalisation, experts still fear that this is not enough to combat the disease alone, and have stressed the important role the vaccine still needs to play.

Dr Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert and professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine said: “By relying exclusively on an antiviral drug, it’s a bit of a roll of the dice in terms of how you will do.

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“Clearly, it’s going to be better than nothing, but it’s a high-stakes game to play,”

Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University said: “I think the Pfizer news is terrific news. It goes hand in hand with vaccination. It doesn’t replace it.”

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