Pfizer says it plans to file for authorisation in the US next month – and could be ready to make the drug available by the end of the year.
It says it has already produced “several hundred thousand doses” at a plant in Puurs, Belgium, and believes it can bring the Covid-19 nightmare to an end.
It is planning to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year – of which 40 million is reportedly set for the UK.
Pfizer UK boss Ben Osborn said: “It was great to see the first vial coming off the manufacturing line.
“It just brought a tremendous smile to my face to see all of this work actually result in a product,” he added to the Mail on Sunday.
Pfizer, which is developing the jab alongside German partner BioNTech, said it may confirm if the vaccine is effective this month – but it needs safety data from a 44,000-person clinical trial.
On Friday chief executive Albert Bourla wrote: “So let me be clear, assuming positive data, Pfizer will apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the U.S. soon after the safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November.”
Earlier this month, the FDA made it compulsory for vaccine-makers collect two months of safety data on one-half of trial participants.
Earlier today SAGE advisor Professor Jeremy Farrar said he believes a vaccine will be available in the first quarter of next year.
He told Sky’s Sophie Ridge: “I do believe the vaccines will be available in the first quarter of next year, I do believe that monoclonal antibodies to treat patients and save lives will be available in the coming months.
“It’s with that context that I think we need to reduce transmission now and we need to get ourselves back to the beginning of September as a country, not in piecemeal, not in fragments across the country, but as a whole country.”
It comes after Professor Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly told MPs that a jab produced by Oxford University and drug giant AstraZenica could be rolled out by December.
According to The Times, he told MPs: “We aren’t light years away from it. It isn’t a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could deploy a vaccine soon after Christmas.
“That would have a significant impact on hospital admissions and deaths.”