The German biotech company, one of the frontrunners in the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, has signed an agreement to supply New Zealand with 1.5 million doses of its vaccine, which should be available in the first quarter of 2021.
New Zealand imposed an early and strict lockdown to limit the spread of the pandemic. It has reported 1,800 COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths to date.
One of BioNTech’s messenger-RNA vaccine candidates is currently in stage-three trials. The company announced in September that it had bought a new manufacturing site to ramp up production once its vaccine gets approval.
Last week, the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s regulatory body, said it was speeding up its processes to allow swift approval for BioNTech vaccine once it has submitted its safety-trial data.
The vaccine under development by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford is also being reviewed under this new, speedier framework by the EMA.
The European Commission has said it will purchase 200 million doses from BioNTech-Pfizer, with the option to buy an additional 100 million.
In August this year, Pfizer and BioNTech entered into an agreement to supply the US government with 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine in a $1.95bn (£1.49bn) deal, as part of the government’s Operation Warp Speed — a push to deliver 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year.
BioNtech and Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, US-based Moderna (MRNA), Novavax (NVAX), Johnson&Johnson (JNJ), and Germany’s CureVac (CVAC) are frontrunners in the vaccine-development race.
BioNTech was one of three German companies to receive a combined €750m (£680m, $885m) in financial support from the government in Berlin. It has also selected CureVac and IDT Biologika. The agreement with the three domestic companies would guarantee Germany 40 million doses of vaccine.
Curevac went public on the Nasdaq in August this year, and counts AstraZeneca (AZN.L) among its investors.
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