BioNTech and Pfizer plan to deliver an additional 500 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine this year thanks to a new plant in Germany and adjusted European guidelines that make it possible to extract an additional injection from each vial.
The companies originally pledged to manufacture 1.5 billion doses in 2021, but now plan to deliver up to 2 billion, BioNTech said in a statement.
The new production total “is based on continuous improvements and expansion of processes at current facilities, and dependent on the addition of contract suppliers and manufacturers,” he said.
In addition to additional production from a new plant in Marburg, which is due to start next month, European supplies were boosted by a decision last week by the EU regulator to track the United States and the Kingdom – United by authorizing the extraction of a sixth dose from each vial. Previously, small containers were only allowed to be diluted in five doses in the EU, but healthcare workers had noticed that there was material left that was going to be wasted.
BioNTech said it has shipped nearly 33 million doses of vaccine so far from six manufacturing sites in the United States and Europe. It has been approved by regulators in the UK, US, EU and over 40 other countries.
Geoffrey Porges, analyst at SVB Leerink, said the additional offer was “very good news economically, socially and medically”.
BioNTech’s projections now far exceed those of Moderna, which said it will produce between 600 and 1 billion doses of its vaccine in 2021.
“Working with a large pharmaceutical partner with experience in the vaccine market has clear advantages in terms of speed of development and scale of manufacturing,” said Mr. Porges.
“It’s not like Moderna is running out of cash, but they certainly need to think more carefully about a billion dollar bet on a Covid vaccine trial or a manufacturing plant than Pfizer.”
BioNTech and Pfizer have already sold more than a billion doses produced this year.
The European Commission announced last week that it had reached an agreement to increase its BioNTech / Pfizer order from 300m to 600m of doses. The UK has ordered 40 million, Japan 120 million, while the US has the option to buy up to 600 million.
The companies are still in talks with the World Health Organization’s Covax program to deliver the vaccine to developing countries, although no deal has been reached. The BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine should be kept at minus 70 ° C during transit, which makes it more difficult to distribute in countries without a cold chain infrastructure.
The companies reported that the vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart to provide the best protection. However, several countries, starting with the UK, have indicated that they plan to delay the second dose in order to give more people at least one dose as soon as possible.
Although this regimen is not backed by BioNTech or Pfizer, data from Phase 3 trials of the vaccine, which involved more than 43,000 people in six countries, showed that recipients achieved partial protection against the virus as early as 12. days after the first dose.
The German health ministry has asked the country’s immunization commission to “review and assess the available data and studies and make a recommendation on this issue,” while President-elect Joe Biden’s team has said she would consider a similar program in the United States.
Additional reporting by Hannah Kuchler in New York