German agency BioNTech stated Friday it was racing to ramp up manufacturing of its Covid-19 jab in Europe, to fill the “hole” left by the shortage of different permitted vaccines.
The vaccine developed by BioNTech and its US companion Pfizer was the primary to be permitted within the European Union in late December.
Nations together with Britain, Canada and america okayed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier and have since additionally greenlighted jabs by US agency Moderna or Oxford/AstraZeneca, leaving the EU’s inoculation drive lagging behind.
“The present scenario will not be rosy, there is a gap as a result of there’s an absence of different permitted vaccines and we have now to fill this hole with our vaccine,” BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin instructed Der Spiegel weekly.
Criticism of the gradual tempo of Europe’s vaccine rollout has grown louder in latest days.
In Germany, the place the main focus has been on inoculating aged folks in care properties, senior medical doctors have complained that hospital employees are being left ready for his or her jabs regardless of being within the precedence teams.
‘Basket of suppliers’
France has seen comparable complaints, prompting the federal government to announce that well being employees aged over 50 may get the shot from Monday — earlier than initially deliberate.
A part of the issue is that the EU positioned a comparatively low order of 300 million doses for its 27 member states, and the contract was solely signed in November, later than different nations.
Fellow BioNTech founder Ozlem Tureci, who can also be Sahin’s spouse, instructed Spiegel that the EU had assumed there could be “a basket of various suppliers” to select from, given the worldwide race to develop a pandemic-ending jab.
“Such an strategy is sensible. However then sooner or later it turned clear that many could be unable to ship rapidly.”
Sahin stated BioNTech aimed to get a brand new manufacturing facility within the German metropolis of Marburg up and working in February, “far sooner than deliberate”, that ought to then have the ability to churn out a further 250 million doses within the first half of 2021.
Tureci stated they’d additionally struck offers with 5 pharmaceutical producers in Europe to extend manufacturing, and negotiations with different specialised companies are ongoing.
“By the top of January we must always have readability on what and the way rather more we will produce,” Sahin stated.
BioNTech and Pfizer had been initially aiming to ship 1.3 billion doses worldwide this yr, sufficient to immunise 650 million folks.