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BioNTech boosts COVID-19 vaccine capacity and aims to deliver 2 billion doses in 2021

Company will also publish data on vaccine's efficacy against new variants soon

BioNTech has increased the production capacity for its Pfizer-partnered COVID-19 vaccine, and now aims to deliver up to 2 billion doses of the vaccine this year.

The Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA-based vaccine has received conditional or emergency approval in the US, UK, Europe and other countries.

Previously, BioNTech had planned to produce around 1.3 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, but announced an increase in that number during a presentation at the virtual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference last week.

So far, 32.9 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped as of 10 January, according to BioNTech’s presentation.

The vaccine will be produced at six manufacturing sites across the Pfizer/BioNTech alliance. Three are based in the US and three are based in the EU.

This includes a recently acquired site in Marburg, Germany, which BioNTech acquired from Novartis in September 2020.

The Marburg site will bolster the annual vaccine capacity by up to 750 million doses annually, and is expected to become operational by the end of February 2021.

As part of BioNTech’s strategy to expand production of the vaccine, it is also planning to use additional external contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) sites for fill-finishing.

In addition, the company will update the label for the vaccine to confirm that six doses can be extracted from a standard vial using low dead space syringes, in a bid to avoid wasting unused liquid.

BioNTech also has plans to expand access to the vaccine, eyeing label expansions to include pregnant women, paediatric indications and additional sub-populations.

On top of that, the Germany-based biotech will undertake further stability testing for the current formulation of the vaccine, with plans to developed an ‘improved thermostable formulation’.

Currently, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of around -70°C, hampering easy storage and distribution.

The vaccines are currently delivered in specialised thermal shipment containers, which offer up to 30 days of storage.

Following this, the vaccine can be store for five days at standard refrigerator conditions of +2°C-+8°C.

During the conference, BioNTech chief executive officer Ugur Sahin also addressed the new coronavirus variants that have emerged in the UK and South Africa.

He said that the company plans to publish additional data on the vaccine’s efficacy against the UK variant over the next seven days and its efficacy against the South African variant over the next ten days.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

12th January 2021

From: Marketing

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