Pfizer Begins Clinical Trial of Coronavirus Vaccines in U.S., Plans to Have Millions of Doses by October

Multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Tuesday that it has begun clinical human trials with immunotherapy company BioNTech to test a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus with the aim of producing millions of doses by October.

In a news release, Pfizer said that the first cohort in the human trials was dosed last week in Germany as part of the BNT162 vaccine program. Participants in the trial will also be dosed at the New York University's Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Additionally, the University of Rochester Medical Center/Rochester Regional Health and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center will begin enrolling trial participants.

The Pfizer world headquarters stands in Midtown Manhattan on July 29, 2019, in New York City Drew Angerer/Getty

"With our unique and robust clinical study program underway, starting in Europe and now the U.S., we look forward to advancing quickly and collaboratively with our partners at BioNTech and regulatory authorities to bring a safe and efficacious vaccine to the patients who need it most," Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement Tuesday.

"The short, less than four-month timeframe in which we've been able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary and further demonstrates our commitment to dedicating our best-in-class resources, from the lab to manufacturing and beyond, in the battle against COVID-19," Bourla explained.

Dr. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief of scientific officer, told CNBC's Squawk Box Tuesday that his company planned to have millions of doses produced by October, with hundreds of millions ready by 2021.

"The plans involve ramping up to tens of millions laters this year and with the potential for hundreds of millions in '21," Dolsten said. "So, it's a very quick plan as we now are dosing participants, healthy participants in the U.S. and Germany."

BREAKING: Pfizer, BioNTech starting the dosing of the first U.S. participants in their clinical trial of their experimental vaccines for #COVID19

Pfizer has put in place plans for having millions of doses of the vaccine by October, says Pfizer Chief of Research Mikael Dolsten.

— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) May 5, 2020

As the trial continues, Pfizer and BioNTech are working to set up the production capabilities to manufacture large amounts of the vaccine in a bid to meet global demand. In the U.S., Pfizer has identified existing sites it already owns as production locations. These include sites in Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri, as well as a facility in Belgium.

"We are optimistic that advancing multiple vaccine candidates into human trials will allow us to identify the safest, most effective vaccination options against COVID-19," Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said in a statement.

If Pfizer and BioNTech successfully produce and begin distributing the vaccine by October, that would be far quicker than the 12 to 18 months touted as the realistic timeframe by scientists and public health experts. The vaccine for the mumps, which is considered to be the fastest ever created, took four years to develop before it was released to the public in 1971.