The company also said it shared "every aspect" of its manufacturing and sales process with the federal government. "They visited our facilities, went through the production lines and were informed of our production planning as soon as information became available," the statement said.
Answers to your vaccine questions
With a coronavirus vaccine spreading out of the US, here are answers to some questions you may be wondering about:
- If I live in the US, when can I get the vaccine? While the exact order of vaccine recipients may vary from state to state, most doctors and residents of long-term care facilities will come first. If you want to understand how this decision is made, this article will help.
- When can I get back to normal life after the vaccination? Life will only get back to normal when society as a whole receives enough protection against the coronavirus. Once countries approve a vaccine, they can only vaccinate a few percent of their citizens in the first few months. The unvaccinated majority remain susceptible to infection. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines show robust protection against disease. However, it is also possible for people to spread the virus without knowing they are infected because they have mild or no symptoms. Scientists don't yet know whether the vaccines will also block the transmission of the coronavirus. Even vaccinated people have to wear masks for the time being, avoid the crowds indoors and so on. Once enough people are vaccinated, it becomes very difficult for the coronavirus to find people at risk to become infected. Depending on how quickly we as a society achieve this goal, life could approach a normal state in autumn 2021.
- Do I still have to wear a mask after the vaccination? Yeah, but not forever. Here's why. The coronavirus vaccines are injected deep into the muscles and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. This seems to be sufficient protection to protect the vaccinated person from disease. However, it is unclear whether the virus can bloom and sneeze or exhale in the nose to infect others, even if antibodies have been mobilized elsewhere in the body to prevent the vaccinated person from getting sick. The vaccine clinical trials were designed to determine if people who were vaccinated are protected from disease – not to find out if they can still spread the coronavirus. Based on studies of flu vaccines and even patients infected with Covid-19, researchers have reason to hope that people who are vaccinated will not spread the virus, but more research is needed. In the meantime, everyone – including those who have been vaccinated – must imagine themselves as possible silent shakers and continue to wear a mask. Read more here.
- Will it hurt What are the side effects? The vaccine against Pfizer and BioNTech, like other typical vaccines, is delivered as a shot in the arm. The injection in your arm feels no different than any other vaccine, but the rate of short-lived side effects seems to be higher than with the flu shot. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines, and none of them have reported serious health problems. The side effects, which can be similar to symptoms of Covid-19, last about a day and are more likely to occur after the second dose. Early reports from vaccine trials suggest that some people may need to take a day off because they feel lousy after receiving the second dose. In the Pfizer study, around half developed fatigue. Other side effects occurred in at least 25 to 33 percent of patients, sometimes more, including headache, chills, and muscle pain. While these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign that your own immune system is having a strong response to the vaccine that provides lasting immunity.
- Will mRNA vaccines change my genes? No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to boost the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is eventually destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to slide inside. The cell uses the mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus that can stimulate the immune system. At any given moment, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules that they produce to make their own proteins. As soon as these proteins are made, our cells use special enzymes to break down the mRNA. The mRNA molecules that our cells make can only survive a few minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is engineered to withstand the cell's enzymes a little longer, so the cells can make extra viral proteins and trigger a stronger immune response. However, the mRNA can hold for a few days at most before it is destroyed.
This fall, Pfizer halved initial estimates that 100 million doses could be administered by the end of the year after manufacturing delays due to difficulties in locating equipment and raw materials and requiring more doses to expand its clinical trial were. In November, the managing director, Dr. Albert Bourla that around 25 million cans would go to the US. On Wednesday, a Pfizer spokeswoman said the company could distribute 20 million doses in the United States in December.
The controversy over short-term deliveries takes place against the background of tense negotiations between Pfizer and the federal government over a new contract for tens of millions of cans in the first half of next year. The two sides hope to reach an agreement by Christmas, but Pfizer has said the federal government must use its powers to force suppliers to prioritize their orders – a request that someone familiar with the negotiations has been pending for months.
The government wants Pfizer to sell 100 million more cans between early April and late June – enough to cover an additional 50 million Americans. Pfizer has said it will only be able to deliver around 70 million cans by then because other countries have already bought the remaining stock.
The problem is particularly problematic because, according to people familiar with Pfizer's version of events, the company has repeatedly asked the Trump administration to pre-order more cans starting late summer, but the administration won't pre-order until November 25 – more than two Weeks Later – Acting Pfizer announced the results of clinical studies showing the vaccine is safe and more than 95 percent effective.
Now, both sides are trying to figure out how Pfizer can increase production to double the number of cans the company can ship to Americans in the first half of next year. So far, the Trump administration has only locked up a total of 300 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna. Because two doses are required for both vaccines, with the exception of children and adolescents who are not yet approved, more than 100 million Americans still remain open.
Alex M. Azar, the secretary for health and human services, hinted at the friction with Pfizer in an interview with CNBC Thursday morning and said, "I wish we'd just stop talking about this Pfizer thing," he added added that the federal government is ready to help Pfizer produce more "if they are ready to accept our help."
Abby Goodnough contributed to the coverage.