Health and Science

Pfizer CEO says he would take coronavirus vaccine first to ease public concern

Key Points
  • Pfizer chief Dr. Albert Bourla said he is willing to be among the first to take a coronavirus vaccine to ease public concerns about its safety.
  • But he added that there are ethical considerations for that, given his age.
Albert Bourla, Pfizer
Gian Ehrenzeller | Keystone | AP

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said Monday he is willing to be among the first to take a coronavirus vaccine to ease public concerns about its safety.

But there are ethical considerations, Bourla added during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "If we have a limited number of doses, I'm not sure if people would recommend people of my age ... or work capacity to be among the first to get a vaccine. So, I want to respect that."

Bourla, who is in his 50s, expects demand for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will much be "higher than anything we can produce," given that it's more than 90% effective, according to the company's data. Bourla said the company is on track to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

"I believe this is likely the most significant medical advance in the last 100 years," he said. "It is a great day for science. It is a great day for humanity when you realize your vaccine has 90% effectiveness. That's overwhelming."

The vaccine contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, which scientists hope provokes the immune system to fight the virus.

Pfizer has been working alongside German drugmaker BioNTech on the experimental vaccine. The companies announced that their vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection, hailing the development as "a great day for science and humanity." Comparatively, the CDC says a vaccine for influenza reduces the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60% among the overall population.

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Pfizer CEO says he wants to be among the first to take coronavirus vaccine to allay concerns