Pfizer partners with BioNTech in Germany to develop possible Covid-19 vaccine

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
The Pfizer world headquarters in Midtown Manhattan on July 29, 2019 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pharma giant Pfizer and BioNTech, based in Mainz, Germany have announced that they will start working together on development of a vaccine against the coronavirus.

“This is a global pandemic, which requires a global effort,” Ugur Sahin, co-founder and chief executive of BioNTech said in a statement. “In joining forces with our partner Pfizer, we believe we can accelerate our effort to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to people around the world who need it.”

“We are proud that our ongoing, successful relationship with BioNTech gives our companies the resiliency to mobilize our collective resources with extraordinary speed in the face of this worldwide challenge,” Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of global R&D, said in his statement.

Pfizer and BioNTech already partner with each other on the development of flu vaccines. The Covid-19 vaccine development will take place in both companies’ research labs in the US and Germany, based on BioNTech's mRNA-based drug development platform.

Read more: Coronavirus: Merkel announces sweeping shutdown in Germany

They said they are aiming to begin testing a possible vaccine on humans as soon as late April.

The two firms have signed an agreement on vaccine distribution outside of China — BioNTech already has a cooperation agreement with Fosun Pharma in China — and said they will firm up financial and manufacturing terms soon.

The news of the cooperation comes a day after a German newspaper reported that the Trump administration had offered a large sum of money to German medical company CureVac to lure it to the United States and secure exclusive rights to the vaccine it is working on for the US.

Read more: Berlin furious at US attempt to strike exclusive deal with German vaccine firm

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said: “German researchers are leaders in the development of medicines and vaccines, in global collaborations; we cannot allow others to exclusively acquire their research results.”

CureVac issued a statement saying it “rejects allegations about offers for acquisition of the company or its technology.” A US official told AFP news agency that the report was “wildly overplayed” and that the US government was approaching many different companies about potential vaccines. 

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