Five quick ones with Malin Parkler, CEO of Pfizer Sweden

Then came the news that Pfizer and Biontech's COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for use in Sweden and the rest of Europe. The approved vaccine is the result of collaboration not only between a large and a small company, but also between authorities, healthcare providers and academia.

– Without a solution-oriented and unpretentious approach from all these actors, this would not have been possible. From a historical perspective, how big is this? It should undoubtedly be regarded as the most important effort in medical research in the last 50 years, says Helena Strigård, CEO of the industry organization SwedenBIO.

The announcement comes almost a year to the day after the first cases were documented in China. Extensive and important work is now underway to vaccinate risk groups and healthcare workers, and eventually the general public.

Pfizer and Biontech may be first, but they are far from alone. Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Curevac and others are all well advanced in their work and more approvals are likely to be forthcoming.

– At the same time, we need to think about what made this possible and what can be replicated. Once the pandemic is over, there are major challenges to be addressed in healthcare. Companies in the life sciences sector have an important job ahead of them. We have seen history unfold, but our focus is on making history again and again. This work has only just begun, says Helena Strigård.

Five quick ones with Malin Parkler, CEO of Pfizer Sweden

Why were Pfizer & Biontech the first to develop the vaccine?

– First, let me say that I am very proud of all the people who have worked to get to this point. This applies to everyone from research to production, logistics and all the other elements needed to make it happen. The success is largely due to Biontech’s mRNA platform, which they have developed over many years and with which we have collaborated on influenza vaccines since before. This became a springboard to get started so quickly. That said, it is unprecedented that so many companies have or will develop effective vaccines against a virus in one year. The pandemic has caused so much death and suffering, and one vaccine is not enough, so I am equally impressed by the other colleagues in the industry who have come through. It will take many more to defeat COVID-19 and I will rejoice with every vaccine that is approved.

How did it happen so quickly?

– The key word is collaboration, both between Pfizer and Biontech, but also between academia, authorities and healthcare providers. I would like to emphasize that no shortcuts have been taken; these are very comprehensive studies, with many participants. I think there is a lot to learn from this process of how we develop new medicines.

What can you say about the vaccine?

– It is an mRNA vaccine, which is synthetic and has shown very good results in phase 3 studies, with 95% efficacy and a good safety profile. The vaccine has been used in the UK for a few weeks. With the approval, deliveries are already on their way to Sweden and vaccinations are likely to start next week.

It is a vaccine that requires storage at -70 degrees?

– Yes, this is true. During deliveries, it must be stored in very cold temperatures, but once it arrives at the premises where the vaccination is carried out, it can be stored for five days at normal refrigerator temperature. This has been a logistical challenge, but in good cooperation with the Public Health Agency and the regions, a good solution is in place.

Who will receive the vaccine?

– The Swedish Public Health Agency has developed a priority list, with different risk groups and health and social care professionals. Once those groups have received the vaccine, it will be offered to the public. It is therefore important that we continue to follow the guidelines to reduce the spread of infection.

Contact us

Helena Strigård, CEO SwedenBIO, +46 (0) 73 640 28 05 or Helena.strigard@swedenbio.se

About SwedenBIO

The industry organization SwedenBIO works for a competitive life science sector in Sweden. We do this by creating effective interfaces between the different actors in the sector, by building knowledge and by giving the industry a strong voice in public debate. Our nearly 300 member companies have a total of 20,000 employees and operate in the fields of drug development, biotechnology, medical devices and diagnostics or are experts in business development, financing, intellectual property and law, among others.