Pfizer, BioNTech Near 2020 Vaccine Target, Easing Output Concern

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BioNTech SE said it’s on track to produce 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine with partner Pfizer Inc. this year, easing concerns that they might miss production targets.

As of Friday, the companies had made the majority of the promised supply for this year, BioNTech said in a statement to Bloomberg. For next year, they’re looking for ways to increase production capacity beyond a promised 1.3 billion doses.

The companies’ output is under close scrutiny after Pfizer and BioNTech won the Western world’s first marketing approval for a Covid vaccine with sign-off from the U.K this week. The U.S. and Europe may follow later this month.

The partners had originally hoped to produce as many as 100 million doses this year, a target they cut in half on Nov. 9 after changes in regulatory and approval timelines, among other factors, BioNTech said. A Wall Street Journal report Thursday on the adjustment prompted concerns about whether the companies would be able to meet their goals.

“We’re ramping up production extremely quickly,” Chief Commercial Officer Sean Marett told Bloomberg Television this week.

Pfizer shares were up 0.2% at 12:10 p.m. in New York, while BioNTech’s American depositary receipts fell 0.8%.

There’s a long line of countries waiting for the vaccine. The partners have signed supply deals for more than 570 million doses and are in talks with more than two dozen countries, Marett said in an interview.

Pfizer, BioNTech Near 2020 Vaccine Target, Easing Output Concern

The swift pace of development for the vaccine has posed manufacturing and logistics challenges, with the companies still working on the research needed to show at what temperatures the shots can be stored and shipped. For now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-low storage temperatures and can be kept in a refrigerator for just five days -- a timeline the companies hope to extend.

On Thursday, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an initial batch of 800,000 doses will be administered starting next week, and that it was “not unreasonable” to expect 5 million by year-end. The country has pre-ordered 40 million doses, most of which will be delivered in 2021.

Meanwhile, Moderna Inc., which is also seeking emergency clearance for a messenger RNA-based vaccine, said it would have between 100 million and 125 million doses available globally in the first quarter of next year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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