Drugmakers vow to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine production

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — A day after we reached the heartbreaking milestone of 500,000 COVID-related deaths in the United States, there is promising news on the vaccine front.

Drugmakers have vowed to ramp up production.

“We recognize the need to vaccinate more people more people quickly and have worked hard to significantly increase production,” said John Young, Group President and Chief Business Officer at Pfizer.

Leaders of the five drug companies that have FDA approval or are expected to seek FDA approval for their vaccine testified before a House Committee Tuesday.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held the hearing entitled “Pathway to Protection: Expanding Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines.”

Pfizer and Moderna say they’ll provide the U.S. government with a total of 220 million doses by the end of March, that’s up sharply from the roughly 75 million shipped so far.

While the vaccine has been approved for people age 16 years and up, many families are wondering about vaccines for childrens.

Dr Jay Berger, ProHealth’s Chair of Pediatrics, says it’s standard procedure for researchers to test drugs in adults first, then move down in age groups

“I think the order is appropriate, it’s a stepwise process and we don’t want to rush it, we want to do it appropriately so we can feel confident vaccinating our children,” said Berger. “Based on what I’ve seen, I’m feeling confident that in the future we will have the data to support that it’s very safe and very effective to vaccinate our children.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have clinical trials underway for 12 to 15-year-olds. If all goes well, they’re expected to ask for FDA approval sometime during the summer for that age bracket.

“The question is will they be able to get approval and ship them out and get them into arms before school starts in September?,” said Berger.

While the unknown of when their child can receive the shot, may be concerning to parents, Dr. Berger says children have generally fared better than adults with this virus.

“Children tend not to have poor outcomes so we need to vaccinate all the at-risk or high-risk patients,” said Berger. “In that interim time period, where the parents and grandparents are vaccinated and the kids are not, it’s not such a horrible situation.”

White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci recommends even fully immunized people should avoid settings where people congregate, like indoor dining and movie theaters, at least for now.

Fauci is also advising keep your mask on to not infect others.

“We know that at this point in time, it is unclear whether when you get vaccinated and you might be protected from clinical disease, which is the primary end point of the vaccine studies, that you could conceivably be infected, have virus in your nasal pharynx and at that same time have no symptoms, which is the reason why we recommend and say you still need to wear a mask,” said Fauci.

More hopeful news on the vaccine front, as Johnson & Johnson could seek approval for their single-dose vaccine as early as this Friday.

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