BioNTech Says State Aid Can Boost Vaccine Capacity: Spiegel

Funding from Germany or the European Union could help BioNTech SE increase production capacity for its Covid-19 vaccine, the company’s finance chief said in an interview.

Last year, when the company had to ramp up a large-scale production process, it would have made no difference if the government had provided financial support, the company’s chief financial officer, Sierk Poetting, told German magazine Spiegel. Aid would now help, particularly since the company has been asked to expand production to 3 billion doses next year from 2 billion in 2021, the executive said.

Health Minister Jens Spahn in a tweet said he is talking to BioNTech after the company advised the government of potential funding needs of as much as 400 million euros ($482 million) to reserve capacities and raw materials into 2022. The government is also in talks with other manufacturers to have enough vaccine available should problematic variants arise or refresher shots become necessary, the minister wrote on Twitter.

BioNTech with partner Pfizer Inc. in the fall started to increase production toward the 2 billion doses it’s seeking to make this year. Its site in Marburg, Germany, is slated to produce 65 million to 70 million shots per month once the ramp-up is completed in a few months, the executive was cited as saying.

Demand for its vaccine may increase as there are under-supplied countries and virus mutations could make it necessary to give people a third dose, he said. BioNTech is working on further expanding sites and adding new partners to its network, he said.

With U.S. President Joe Biden using federal powers to boost the U.S. supply chain for medical supplies, companies like BioNTech fear they may run into difficulties getting vaccines shipped to Europe, Poetting said.

“We had envisioned from the start that things could get difficult with the U.S., so we must also order, build and produce elsewhere.”

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