China Secures 100 Million Doses of BioNTech Vaccine

A Chinese drugmaker has secured 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, as the country seeks overseas shots in addition to home-made ones to ensure immunization for the world’s most populous nation.

Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., which in March made an agreement with BioNTech to develop and market the mRNA shot in China, will make an advance payment of 250 million euros ($300 million) for an initial 50 million doses. The German vaccine maker will supply no fewer than 100 million doses for China by the end of 2021, Fosun said in a statement filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday.

While the shot is globally known as the one co-developed by Pfizer, the U.S. company is not involved in the agreement.

Experimental shots developed by domestic developers including state-owned China National Biotec Group Co. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. are close to getting approved by Chinese drug regulators, with expectations for 1.6 billion doses to be churned out in 2021.

Yet the vaccines require two shots, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to make any successful shots also accessible to the developing world. That will create a shortfall as China seeks to inoculate its 1.4 billion people, spurring the need for additional supplies.

AstraZeneca Plc has also inked a deal with a local partner to bring its vaccine to China. Meanwhile, several Chinese developers like CanSino Biologics Inc. and Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co. are also developing inoculations at an earlier stage, and their shots will boost domestic supply once they clear regulatory hurdles.

While trial results indicate the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is 95% effective against Covid-19, none of the Chinese makers has officially announced efficacy data yet.

The Pfizer-BioNTech shot has already been approved for emergency use in the U.S. and U.K., among other nations. Fosun will seek a regulatory nod in China using data from a local Phase II trial currently under way and from Phase III tests overseas.

Last week, Fosun won an order from Hong Kong for 7.5 million doses.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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