St. Louis County is home to COVID-19 vaccine development

Christine+Smith%2C+left%2C+a+vice+president+at+Pfizer%2C+details+the+production+and+trials+that+will+be+happening+at+Pfizer%27s+Chesterfield%2C+Missouri+facility%2C+alongside+Missouri+Gov.+Mike+Parson.+

Christine Smith, left, a vice president at Pfizer, details the production and trials that will be happening at Pfizer’s Chesterfield, Missouri facility, alongside Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

By Claire Colby, Missouri News Network

A Pfizer facility in Chesterfield is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

“In a short order of time, we worked closely with regulatory authorities and accelerated what typically would have taken months into weeks and weeks into a matter of days in order to rapidly and safely enter the clinic,” said Christine Smith, a Pfizer vice president.

Clinical trials in the United States began this week, Smith said. Pfizer, working with German immunotherapy company BioNTech, is testing four “vaccine candidates,” each at three different dose strengths, across two age groups, she said.

Doses were administered at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine earlier this week, according to a statement from Pfizer.

The Chesterfield location is one of three Pfizer facilities nationwide working to develop a vaccine.

Smith said that researchers greatly reduced the amount of time it takes to produce a vaccine by working through certain steps simultaneously instead of sequentially.

“We have the potential, subject to technical success and regulatory approval, to supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020,” she said.

Smith also said that, if the vaccine is successful, Pfizer has the potential to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2020.

“It is our sincere belief that, to beat this pandemic, it will take science and creativity along with the determined will of passionate researchers,” she said.

At his daily press briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson said it would be “premature” to discuss the affordability of a potential vaccine.

“First, you got to get it out there and even make it available,” he said. “So that would be the first goal. I think that what Pfizer’s doing and what we’re doing to make it available — then we’ll figure out how we pay for it.”

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed 9,341 cases of COVID-19 and 418 deaths Thursday. The numbers reflect an additional 239 cases and 22 deaths from Wednesday’s numbers.

Parson and his wife, Teresa, visited several open businesses in Jefferson City. Parson shared photos on his social media of himself in Hy-Vee and Orscheln Farm & Home without a mask.

He has not been tested for COVID-19, he told reporters.