Here’s how the Kalamazoo facility is showcasing progress and leadership in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
MICHIGAN — Across the globe, hundreds of people are rolling up their sleeves to try new vaccines that might stop COVID-19. Many of the doses will be manufactured right here in Michigan.
Pfizer, a global pharmaceutical manufacturing company, announced the first clinical trials began on Tuesday. The first cohort of participants was in Germany.
The initial manufacturing of the vaccine will happen in three of Pfizer’s U.S. sites, including the Portage facility.
“Kalamazoo is the largest and most diverse manufacturing site in the Pfizer network – which brings with it talented colleagues and an amazing depth of experience and knowledge,” Chaz Calitri, Pfizer’s VP of operations and sterile injectables tells The ‘Gander.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the news coming from the Michigan manufacturer Tuesday, two days after a CNN interview in which the governor expressed that the global supply chain was slowing Michigan’s progress against the virus.
“This is great news for our families, our neighbors, and those serving on the front lines during this crisis,” Whitmer says. “COVID-19 has shown how vulnerable our country is when it comes to supply chain and much of the lifesaving materials we need are manufactured out of the country. 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.”
Calitri’s sentiments about the area’s unique position to be effective in this fight are similar.
“There were many factors which made the Kalamazoo site an ideal location including an excellent history of being able to scale up a new process and the equipment needed to produce the vaccine in such large volumes,” Calitri says.
About 100 research groups are pursuing vaccines with nearly a dozen in early stages of human trials or poised to start. It’s a crowded field, but researchers say that only increases the odds that a few might overcome the many obstacles that remain.
“We’re not really in a competition against each other. We’re in a race against a pandemic virus, and we really need as many players in that race as possible,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, who is leading the University of Oxford’s vaccine study, told The Associated Press.
Why Being A Team Player Matters
As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top expert, put it: “You need more shots on goal for a chance at getting a safe and effective vaccine.”
That the search for a vaccine is a collaborative effort might come as a surprise to President Donald Trump. Politico reports that Trump’s general “go it alone” attitude has raised concerns worldwide that the United States will view curing the pandemic as a competition.
“You would think that, based on the past, that the U.S. would be a galvanizing, lead element in pushing for transparency and early planning,” Stephen Morrison, who runs a global health program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Politico. “I don’t think that’s true in this administration.”
This has been borne out by reports that Trump attempted to buy a promising treatment being developed in Germany for use exclusively by Americans, according to The Guardian.
And that frantic competitive mentality might have played into some of the President’s more dubious decisions. As COURIER reports, a drug Trump touted as a “game changer” actually might have increased deaths. Trump even ousted scientists cautioning that the drug hydroxychloroquine was not scientifically proven to do the things the administration was insisting it be released en masse to do.