Covid-19 roundup: BioNTech exec says new production sites could be added to meet demand — report; Giving up on the EC, Valneva looks to individual countries for vaccine supply deals
BioNTech CFO Sierk Poetting says he isn’t ruling out the construction of new production sites to meet demand for its Pfizer-partnered Covid-19 vaccine.
Poetting told the Handelsblatt newspaper, published in Düsseldorf, Germany, that the company is in talks to ramp up capacity, which could be done in six months if necessary.
“There is still room for improvement. But that will ultimately also depend on demand,” he said, per Reuters.
Earlier this year, BioNTech opened a new site in Marburg that it purchased from Pfizer. CEO Ugur Sahin told Bloomberg TV last month that Pfizer and BioNTech could increase manufacturing capacity to produce 3 billion doses next year. He added that the partners have 1.3 billion dose orders in the book, and the ability to pump out 2 billion doses in 2021. A total of 300 million doses have been promised to the US.
Rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ran behind schedule at the beginning of this year, worrying some countries and leading Italy to threaten legal action. Companies like Sanofi and Novartis eventually stepped up to help with production.
Earlier this month, EC president Ursula von der Leyen reached an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to speed up the delivery of their vaccine to the bloc. The EC is also striking a third contract with the companies for 1.8 billion more doses between 2021 and 2023.
Giving up on the EC, Valneva looks to individual countries for vaccine supply deals
Valneva is giving up on discussions with the EC for its inactivated Covid-19 vaccine candidate, and is now pursuing supply agreements on a country-by-country basis, it said on Tuesday.
The news comes weeks after Valneva said the candidate appeared to be “highly immunogenic” in a Phase I/II trial, with more than 90% of all study participants developing significant levels of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein across all dose groups tested. The French biotech says it plans to launch into Phase III by the end of this month, which could line it up to approach regulators this fall.
“We’ve committed significant time and effort to try to meet the needs of the central EC procurement process. Despite our recent clinical data, we have not made meaningful progress and have not yet secured a supply agreement,” CEO Thomas Lingelbach said in a statement.
“We are therefore now focusing our efforts on those European Union member states, and interested parties outside the EU, who would like to include our inactivated approach within their vaccination strategy,” he added.
Back in February, the UK inked a deal for an additional 40 million doses of Valneva’s vaccine in 2022, bringing the company’s total commitment to the country to 100 million doses. British officials retain options for another 90 million shots between 2023 and 2025. Should all the options be exercised, the value of the deal would equal €1.4 billion, or about $1.69 billion.
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