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Germany's BioNTech signs deal with New Zealand for 1.5 million vaccine doses

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
The headquarters of German biotech firm BioNTech is photographed in Mainz, Germany, September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
BioNTech headquarters is in Mainz, Germany. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

New Zealand is the latest country to pre-order bulk doses of the COVID-19 vaccine currently under development by Germany-based BioNTech (BNTX) and its partner Pfizer (PFE).

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.

READ MORE: Germany backs three domestic firms with €750m to develop COVID-19 vaccine

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.

READ MORE: CureVac races for 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by end of 2020

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.

WATCH: Oxford vaccine trial resumes