Germany’s Biontech and US giant Pfizer get first order for vaccine

By Rachel More, dpa

Germany’s Biontech and US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer have received their first order – from Britain – for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus that they are developing, the Mainz-based firm said on Monday.

The agreement is to supply 30 million doses of the BNT162 vaccine in 2020 and 2021, “subject to clinical success and regulatory approval,” a statement said.

Financial details of the deal were not given.

Biontech chief executive and co-founder Ugur Sahin expressed his thanks to the British government for its support and trust.

“This agreement is part of our commitment to address the pandemic by creating a global supply. We are in advanced discussions with multiple other government bodies and hope to announce additional supply agreements soon,” he said.

First- and second-phase trials of four RNA vaccine candidates from Biontech and Pfizer are currently under way in Germany and the United States.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave “fast-track designation” to two of those vaccines.

Biontech and Pfizer have already released initial results from the ongoing trials and several experts reacted positively to the progress.

People participating in the clinical trials, aged between 18 and 55, developed antibodies against the virus, which causes the Covid-19 lung disease, although it remains unclear whether these antibodies protect against infection. This is to be tested among a sample group of 30,000.

The companies said a lead vaccine candidate may be selected for phase 2b or phase 3 of testing later this month.

This would allow an application for regulatory approval to be lodged in October this year, they added.

Curevac, another German company working on a potential coronavirus vaccine, announced on Monday a multimillion-euro investment from GlaxoSmithKline.

The British pharmaceutical company is to make a 130-million-pound (163-million-dollar) equity investment in CureVac, amounting to an almost 10-per-cent stake, as well as an upfront payment of 104 million pounds, a statement said.

The strategic collaboration will focus on researching, developing and manufacturing up to five RNA-based vaccines and antibodies targeting infectious disease pathogens, Curevac said.

The Tuebingen-based firm’s ongoing clinical trials for RNA vaccines against the novel coronavirus and rabies are not part of the collaboration, it added.

The German government took a stake in Curevac of around 23 per cent in June, in a bid to prevent a foreign takeover in the global race for a vaccine.

GlaxoSmithKline is already working with French multinational Sanofi on a potential vaccine.

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