Michigan Industry Rises to the Challenge of Vaccinating the World

September 21, 2021 By Nezar Jamal

On the sidelines of the 2021 United General Assembly meetings in New York, a global vaccine summit is scheduled to be held to help the world end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better will focus on the global nature of pandemic and the urgent need for a coordinated global response. The summit drives home the notion that what matters around the world affects us right here at home.

However, UN summits in Washington D.C. and high-level meetings between world leaders and health exports in New York may sound far away from what many assume are small, isolated farming towns tucked in America’s Heartland. What many folks don’t realize is that a key part of ending the pandemic — vaccines — are being produced right here in America and being shipped around the world to help countries inoculate their populations and stem the tide of the pandemic amid the delta variant’s surge. Pharmaceutical leader Pfizer — who in partnership with BioNTech developed the first FDA approved vaccine against COVID-19 — is producing the vaccine at its plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Also, the company recently broke ground on a $465 million expansion of the plant that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the region.

There’s precedent for Michigan industry driving the local response to a global problem. Just like how the assembly lines of the auto industry in Detroit switched out Ford cars for Sherman tanks to make America the Arsenal of Democracy in WWII, it’s now the pharmaceutical plants of Western Michigan that are being configured to produce millions of doses of the vaccine to fight back against the pandemic. As vaccines have become available to all Americans, this plant is now helping produce vaccines sent around the world as part of America’s commitment to helping vaccinate countries who still need to inoculate their populations. For example, only 3 percent of the entire African continent is fully vaccinated against the virus, and as cases surge amidst the delta variant, communities around the world are looking to the United States – and Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo — to help end the pandemic.

It’s also not just about ending the pandemic. The Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo has brought hundreds of new, high-skilled jobs back to Michigan. It’s no secret that Michigan’s economy has been on a long road to recovery since the Great Recession and this recovery was hampered by the pandemic. The Pfizer plant and the new multi-million dollar investment continue to create jobs in the region that are sustainable and highly skilled. In addition, this also creates opportunities for renewed economic growth for this part of the state.

Vaccines produced at the Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo have rolled off the assembly line and into the arms of Americans since the beginning of 2021 — helping America get on the road to recovery. As shots make their way to vaccine clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies here at home, the plant has begun shipping doses around the world. Michiganders are stepping up to provide a solution to a global problem all while driving positive local impact.