BioNTech and Pfizer Ink Japanese Vaccine Supply Pact

04.08.2020 - The Covid-19 vaccine partnership of Germany’s BioNTech and US drugs giant Pfizer inked its third supply pact in a week on Jul. 31. This deal, with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW), follows separate agreements with the US and UK signed in the two preceding days.

Financial terms of the Japanese agreement were not disclosed, but the companies said they are based on the timing of delivery and the volume of doses supplied. BioNTech and Pfizer have agreed to provide 120 million doses of their leading vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, during the 2021 first half. This and another candidate have received fast-track status from the US Food and Drug Administration.

So far, this is the only supply deal with an Asian country for a Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been negotiating with the Japanese government, the Reuters news agency recently reported. However, an agreement has not yet been signed. J&J told Reuters its pact could look like the $1.2 billion deal between UK-Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

Japan is hoping that the pandemic will have subsided sufficiently to allow the country to host the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in July 2021, the new date announced back in March. “The Tokyo Olympics may become a symbol for all of us for how all nations around the world can overcome a global pandemic threat together,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech.


The German-American vaccine candidate is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and supported by Pfizer’s global vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities. The partners have just begun phase 3 clinical trials with BNT162b2 and hope to file for regulatory approval by October.

In the trial, researchers will study a 30µg dose level in a two-dose-regimen among up to 30,000 participants aged 18 to 85 years. The tests are expected to be conducted at 120 sites globally including in regions with significant expected SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

BioNTech and Pfizer have also expressed interest in partnering with COVAX – an equitable vaccine distribution platform backed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization.

The NGOs’ initiative would help provide coronavirus vaccines from a range of manufacturers to governments worldwide, including those in developing nations. This has become a major concern now that much of the developed world has already nailed down or is in the process of nailing down supply agreements for its population.