Vaccine Deals Come Fast and Furiously

23.07.2020 - The world’s governments are signing vaccine supply pacts fast and furiously now, as the world continues to hope an effective prevention against Covid-19 will be found soon. Days after signing on with the UK government, German biotech BioNTech – working with American drugs giant Pfizer – has inked a deal with the US and is reportedly also talking to the EU.

Under the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed initiative aimed at accelerating the search for a vaccine, the partnership has been tapped to supply initially 100 million doses of Mainz-based BioNTech’s mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine at the a price tag of $1.95 billion. So far, this is the single largest pledge under the new program created in May of this year.

The US Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will take supply of its first 100 million doses.  It can order an additional 500 million doses up to the end of 2021 at a price yet to be determine if the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the vaccine or issues emergency authorization.

With the US taxpayer eventually footing the bill, Pfizer will distribute the vaccine free to US Covid-19 patients. As the Department of Defense is participating in the scheme, a large number could find its way to the US military. Altogether, Pfizer and BioNTech have said they aim to produce 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion doses in total by the end of 2021.

Late Last week, the companies agreed to supply the UK with 30 million doses of the vaccine, which is now entering Phase 3 trials, at an undisclosed price. BioNTech and Pfizer are reportedly now also talking to the EU about a supply deal.

The German-American collaboration is currently studying four experimental vaccine candidates, each of which represents a unique combination of messenger RNA (mRNA) format and target antigen. Two candidates have received the FDA’s fast track status, and BioNTech said earlier that a regulatory filing could be made as early as October 2020.

In addition to their engagements with governments, Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted an expression of interest to supply the COVAX Facility, a mechanism established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organization.

To help fund the massive distribution effort, BioNTech said this week it plans to offer around $492 million in stock. Pfizer has pledged to purchase around $200 million worth.