The staggering and unexpected global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines has left a healthcare delivery system devastated. U.S. pharma giant Pfizer, and its German partner BioNTech, have been quickly overwhelmed by sheer global demand. No vaccine has ever been developed or distributed so quickly. To the rescue, several drug companies are collaborating on manufacturing and distributing Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine to help reach millions more people.
French drugmaker Sanofi has offered BioNTech access to a production facility in Frankfurt to expedite production of Pfizer’s vaccine. Sanofi will also help fill and package up to 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine throughout 2021. This pharma arrangement will also accelerate packaging and distribution of the U.S. Pfizer vaccine, which demands sophisticated, ultra-frigid storage temperatures. (Sanofi is working with GlaxoSmithKline on their own COVID-19 vaccine.)
This breakthrough collaboration is the first time any drugmaker has worked to help make a rival’s vaccine. The Paris-based company released this statement, in part: “We have moved activities across sites to be able to manufacture over 100 million doses of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine… This is the maximum we can produce in this timeframe with the industrial capabilities we have available.”
This week, drugmaker Novartis has also inked an initial agreement with BioNTech to allow the mRNA biotech use of Novartis’ facility in Stein, Switzerland. Production should start by April.