Pfizer coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine begins U.S. clinical trials

Manufacturing will be conducted in Kalamazoo

The latest coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to enter clinical trials will be made in Michigan.

DETROIT – The latest coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to enter clinical trials will be made in Michigan.

Pfizer announced the initial manufacturing will be conducted in Kalamazoo. Pfizer said the first U.S. study participants have received the experimental vaccine. The pharmaceutical giant is partnering with the German biotechnology company BioNTech in the effort.

May 5, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 44,397; Death toll now at 4,179

The first study participants in Germany finished receiving the vaccine last week. The companies are actually testing four vaccine candidates in a single trial. Each with a different combination and target antigen.

The initial testing will enroll up to 360 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55 and 65 to 85. The younger group will be immunized first. The older group will be immunized after the initial safety and effectiveness is evaluated in the younger group.

Test sites in the U.S. include the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the University of Rochester Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Pfizer and BioNTech are both increasing their manufacturing capacity now to allow them to supply more vaccine if the testing proves successful.

READ: Beaumont launches new clinical study on combo treatment for COVID-19

The initial U.S. Manufacturing will take place in Kalamazoo. The companies estimate they could produce millions of doses by the end of 2020 with the capacity to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021.

This is just one of several vaccines currently in development. Worldwide more than half a dozen vaccine programs have begun clinical trials -- more than 80 are in the preliminary phases.

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.