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'It's a mission-critical type of situation' | COVID-19 vaccine produced in Maryland lab

The challenges facing labs working to produce millions of viable vaccines include speed and storage space.

BALTIMORE — Right now, nearly 800 people are working on a COVID-19 vaccine in Baltimore. The senior vice president of Emergent BioSolutions told WUSA9 that with rising coronavirus cases in our region and around the country the pressure is on, but he said they're ready.

“No one wants to be in a pandemic, but Emergent has built itself for this," Sayed Husain, the senior VP of Emergent BioSolutions, said.  

Inside a massive factory in Baltimore's Bayview neighborhood, hundreds of hometown heroes are working around the clock to manufacture a vaccine for Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca.  

“It is this mission-critical type of situation and our mission is to protect and enhance life,” Husain said. 

He said there are challenges in producing millions of viable vaccines, including speed and storage. 

 According to the CDC, coronavirus vaccines must be refrigerated or frozen in temperatures as cold as negative 112 degrees. Emergent BioSolutions had large freezers delivered in October and is trying to secure more now. 

Credit: Emergent BioSolutions

“With the magnitude of the pace and the scale, and the volume at which these potential vaccine candidates are required to be produced, it puts a strain on infrastructure," Husain said. 

So that means the company is not only producing these vaccines, but securing more freezers and warehouse space, all at once. It’s a race against time and the stakes could not be higher.

The question on everyone's mind, though, is when will the vaccines be ready? Husain said that's up to their partners at Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca. CBS news reports AstraZeneca is still in the trial phase but expects their vaccine to be available in January. 

The CDC will handle distribution and, according to its website, hopes to have enough for every American who wants it.

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