BioNTech buys a Novartis plant to increase vaccine production capacity
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BioNTech buys a Novartis plant to increase vaccine production capacity

Credit: Belga

BioNTech, one of the leading laboratories in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, has bought a manufacturing site from Novartis to increase its production capacity, the German company announced on Thursday.

The plant in Marburg, Germany, should eventually produce 750 million doses per year of the company’s BNT162 vaccine, which is currently undergoing clinical trials.

Several countries, along with the European Union, have already reserved millions of doses of BioNTech’s vaccine. The laboratory is aiming for 100 million doses manufactured this year and now “clearly” expects to surpass the previous target of 1.3 billion doses next year, a spokeswoman said.

“This acquisition reflects BioNTech’s commitment to significantly expanding its manufacturing capacity in order to supply a potential vaccine worldwide upon authorisation or approval,” said Sierk Poetting, the Mainz-based company’s chief financial and operating officer.

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The programme, called BNT162, consists of five vaccine projects currently being tested, the most promising of which, BNT162b2, is the subject of a partnership with the US company Pfizer and entered phase 3 of clinical trials at the end of July.

Only eight other coronavirus vaccines have reached this stage worldwide.

Subject to regulatory approval, production at the Novartis site is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2021 and both companies expect to complete the transaction, for which no financial details have been disclosed, before the end of the year.

Marburg and its 300 employees join BioNTech’s two sites that currently produce vaccines for clinical trials and at least four Pfizer plants in the US and Europe.

The acquisition comes just days after the announcement of an additional €375 million grant from the German government to support vaccine research.

The Brussels Times