The first shipments of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine left the drugmaker’s facility in Portage, Michigan early Sunday morning, paving the way for millions of vulnerable individuals in the U.S. to be vaccinated.
About 184,275 vials of the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, were shipped in freight trucks from the plant and will be delivered to every state. Another 390,000 vials are set to be shipped on Monday.
A total of 145 distribution sites are scheduled to receive the shots on Monday, 425 more will receive it on Tuesday, and 66 sites on Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration on authorized the vaccine for emergency use on Friday. The request came after a Phase 3 clinical study showed Pfizer’s vaccine to be 95 percent effective in preventing the disease associated with the coronavirus.
Last month, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is managing Operation Warp Speed’s coronavirus vaccine development efforts, said the White House plans to have enough vaccine doses to immunize about 20 million people in the U.S. in December and another 25 to 30 million per month on an ongoing basis after that.
Pfizer said it plans to produce up to 50 million doses around the world by the end of the year and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of next year.
The coronavirus has killed more than 298,000 people in the U.S., and more than 16 million people in the country have contracted the disease. Globally, more than 1,609,000 people have died from the virus.