Drug company Pfizer on Tuesday said that it could supply about 40 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to the United States this year itself, reported AFP.

“If all goes well, we will be ready to distribute an initial number of doses,” Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said, referring to a US government contract for the company to supply 40 million doses by the end of this year and 100 million doses by March 2021. Bourla added that the availability of the vaccine is subject to expected progress in its clinical testing and approval from the regulators.

He said that the company has still not reached key benchmarks in assessing vaccine efficacy. Pfizer had said previously that it could have the data in October.

Bourla said the company expects to file for emergency use authorisation for its Covid-19 vaccine in the third week of November, roughly in line with earlier timetables.

Asked if he was “bullish” the vaccine would work, Bourla said, he was “cautiously optimistic” about it, reported AFP.

Meanwhile on Monday, another pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said that the coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford produces an immune response in both old and young adults. The company however did not say when the results of the Phase 3 trials would be published. A vaccine is deemed safe to be commercially available only after Phase 3 trials – a much larger efficacy trial involving thousands of participants.

Pfizer, AstraZeneca and another drug company Moderna are among the front-runners in the global race to produce a vaccine to fight the infection. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 4.39 crore people and killed 11,66,127, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The worldwide recoveries have crossed 2.97 crore.

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