Coronavirus vaccine can be fridge-stored for two weeks, expects BioNTech CEO2 min read . Updated: 17 Sep 2020, 02:55 PM IST
BioNTech CEO expects that the experimental COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Pfizer can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for at least two weeks, seeking to allay concerns that the compound may have to be deep-frozen
FRANKFURT : BioNTech expects that the experimental COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Pfizer can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for at least two weeks, seeking to allay concerns that the compound may have to be deep-frozen.
Speaking at an online media briefing on the purchase of an additional German production site, Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said tests have recently confirmed the genetic compound remains stable at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for five days but he expects storability at those conditions to be two weeks or longer.
He added that a good vaccine should have an efficacy of at least 70% to 75% for it to quell the pandemic and that was also the yardstick that BioNTech had set itself.
BioNTech SE said it is buying a German manufacturing site with capacity to churn out 750 million doses a year of its Covid-19 vaccine, more than doubling the amount the company can produce as it prepares to help supply the world with its still-unproven shot.
The site purchase from Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG shows the German biotech’s confidence in the experimental vaccine it’s developing together with US partner Pfizer Inc and China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. The site will enable BioNTech to ramp up production more quickly than if it had relied on expanding existing sites, as it had originally planned, Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said.
“Particularly in the first half of 2021, we can get more doses than initially planned," Sahin said.
BioNTech’s vaccine candidate and its rivals are making their way through clinical studies amid intense public scrutiny -- and in some countries, political promises. In the U.S., Paul Mango, one of the leaders of the administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program, said on Wednesday that every American could be vaccinated by the end of March.
BioNTech and Pfizer are seeking to ship 100 million doses of vaccine this year -- enough for 50 million people to get a two-dose course of immunization -- and with that supply already portioned out between multiple governments, it wouldn’t be sufficient to cover the U.S., Sahin said. The partners expect to get initial data next month from a 44,000-person study showing whether the vaccine works.
Ramping up to full production capability will take some time. The new site will be able to make 250 million doses of its vaccine in the first half of next year and then as many as 750 million doses a year once it’s fully operational. The shots will supply the Chinese market as well as other countries around the world. Pfizer will also produce the vaccine in the US and Europe.
Together, Pfizer and BioNTech had initially said they could manufacture more than 1.3 billion doses of vaccine by the end of next year. Today’s manufacturing deal will increase their joint capacity by at least 300 million doses a year, Sahin said.