One year after the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, the vaccine rollout is gathering pace and beginning to bear fruit.
But one of the lingering questions about the vaccine deployment: can vaccine developers pump out enough vials to keep up with demand?
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Reuters in a TV interview Thursday that his company is doing its part and is likely to exceed its vaccine production targets by as much as 20 percent this year.
"We announced that we felt that we would be able to do two billion does by the end of this year, I reviewed a couple of days ago, our situation and the readiness, and we are going to be able to do way more than that. We will exceed clearly, this year, the 2 billion doses. And our steady state, on an annual, two year we will be able to make 3 billion doses."
Bourla's production optimism comes amid new real-world data from Pfizer and partner BioNTech, which suggest its vaccine is largely effective in preventing virus spread by those without symptoms.
"The most impressive is that this is the first time that we got data about asymptomatic infections. And, the data reveals so far, 94 percent effectiveness against asymptomatic infections. This is very very important for society. Not for the individuals because they do not have any symptoms. But they are the ones that clearly replicate the virus into society because they don't know that they have it, and they don't take the measures of isolation that those that know that they have it, take, and they of course spread the virus."
The data show Pfizer's current vaccine is effective on the original COVID-19 strain and on the emerging and highly-contagious UK variant. More tests need to be done on a variant discovered in South Africa
Pfizer is ready to tweak the vaccine, if need be.
"If we discover that this one, after some tests, creates concerns and we need to go ahead and produce a new vaccine, we will be able to produce it within a hundred days."