COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Pfizer and BioNTech Combine Expertise in Co-Development

COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Pfizer and BioNTech
A case of test tubes is placed on a lab table during research on coronavirus, COVID-19 - Copyright © africanews Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Pfizer and BioNTech Combine Expertise in Co-Development

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech, two prominent pharmaceutical companies, have announced a collaboration to co-develop a potential vaccine aimed at preventing Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, and BioNTech, a German immunotherapy company specializing in cancer medicine and other life-threatening diseases, signed a Material Transfer and Collaboration Agreement on March 18, 2020, to commence their joint efforts in finding a vaccine to combat the pandemic.

The collaboration is focused on accelerating the global development of the mRNA-based vaccine candidate BNT162 by leveraging the expertise and resources of both companies. According to a joint press statement, the aim is to expedite the development of BioNTech’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine program, BNT162, with plans for clinical testing to commence by the end of April 2020.

This collaboration builds upon the successful research and development partnership established between Pfizer and BioNTech in 2018 to develop mRNA-based vaccines for influenza prevention. Mikael Dolsten, Chief Scientific Officer and President of Worldwide Research, Development & Medical at Pfizer, expressed pride in the companies’ longstanding relationship, stating their ability to mobilize resources swiftly in response to the global challenge posed by COVID-19.

Ugur Sahin, Co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech, emphasized the necessity of a global effort in combating the pandemic and expressed confidence in the partnership’s ability to expedite the delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine to those in need worldwide.

The collaboration will utilize research and development facilities in the United States and Germany, among other locations, to facilitate the activities outlined in the agreement. Both companies are set to commence collaboration immediately, with plans to finalize details of the agreement, including financial terms and activities related to development, manufacturing, and potential commercialization, in the coming weeks.

In response to the escalating pandemic, Pfizer issued a five-point plan on March 13, 2020, calling for unprecedented collaboration within the biopharmaceutical industry to combat COVID-19. While preventive measures such as good hygiene and community isolation remain crucial in controlling the spread of the virus, the collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech represents a significant step towards developing a vaccine to address the ongoing global health crisis.

As of March 19, 2020, nearly 179,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, resulting in over 7,000 deaths. In Africa, the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 600 in 34 countries, prompting efforts by organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) to support governments in early detection, testing, surveillance, and public awareness campaigns to mitigate the impact of the virus on the continent.

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