The first Covid-19 vaccine could be available in Ireland before the end of the year.
Pfizer Ireland, which has a huge plant in Cork, and its German partner BioNTech say they could be in a position to issue some 100 million doses of their experimental vaccine.
Ireland is on the list of countries that could get it if the vaccine first gets emergency use approval from the US’s Food and Drug Authorisation agency and then the European Medicines Agency.
These processes should, if all goes well, be completed in a matter of weeks.
However, it is understood FDA approval will not be sought until after the US presidential election.
The two-dose vaccine, BNT162b2, has been tested on 35,000 people so far, with a total of 39,862 enrolled in the trials program so far.
Paul Reid, managing director of Pfizer Ireland, said: “We can have 100 million doses by the end of 2020. If we have an advance purchase agreement with the EU Commission, that is secured. Part of that would include a volume we think we can make available across Europe.
"We are accelerating through the clinical trial programme at breakneck speed. We are seeing a speed of recruitment into the trials that we have never seen before.”
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he added: “The FDA will review the data with their own scientists. It will be reviewed by an external panel of independent experts at a publicly held meeting. We are going to have to demonstrate the quality and consistency of the vaccine.
"We are trying to be as open as possible. We are sharing any conclusive read-out data, whether positive or negative, within a few days after independent scientists see it. The positivity around the vaccine is predicated on good science so far."
With Pfizer emerging as the front-runner in the quest for a viable vaccine, it could make the company billions.
According to Fiercepharma.com, analysts at SVB Leerink estimate that the vaccine will “peak at sales of $3.5 billion next year before flattening out at about $1.4 billion a year after that”.
They believe those who take the vaccine will need to be revaccinated every two years “to maintain protective immunity”.
They believe there will be an uptake of the vaccine of “about 80%” of healthcare workers and high-risk adults, including the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.
SVB Leerink also estimate the price of the vaccine will be $30 per dose in the US and $23 overseas.