BioNTech and Pfizer plan to deliver an additional 500 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine this year thanks to a new plant in Germany and adjusted European guidelines that make it possible to extract an additional injection from each vial.
The companies had originally committed to making 1.5 billion doses of their vaccine in 2021, but now plan to provide up to 2 billion doses, BioNTech said in a statement.
The new production total “is based on continuous improvements and expansion of processes at the current facilities, and dependent on the addition of suppliers and contract manufacturers,” he said.
In addition to additional production from a new plant in Marburg, which is due to start next month, European supplies were boosted by a decision last week by the EU regulator to track the United States and the Kingdom – United by authorizing the extraction of a sixth dose from each vial. Previously, small containers were only allowed to be diluted in five doses in the EU, but healthcare workers had noticed that there was excess material that was going to be wasted.
BioNTech said it has shipped nearly 33 million doses of vaccine so far from six manufacturing sites in the United States and Europe. The shot has been approved by regulators in the UK, US, EU and over 40 other countries.
Moderna, whose vaccine has also been approved in the UK, US and EU, said it would produce between 600 million and 1 billion doses in 2021.
BioNTech and Pfizer have already sold over a billion doses to be produced this year, but hundreds of millions of doses remain available for purchase, given the increased production target.
Last week, the European Commission announced that it had reached an agreement to increase its BioNTech / Pfizer order from 300m of doses to 600m. The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the jab, Japan 120 million, while the US has the option to purchase up to 600 million.
The companies are still in talks with the World Health Organization’s Covax program to deliver the vaccine to developing countries, although no deal has been reached. BioNTech / Pfizer shot must be kept at minus 70 ° C during transit, making it more difficult to distribute in countries without an existing cold chain infrastructure.
The companies said the vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart to provide the strongest protection. But several countries, starting with the UK, have indicated that they plan to delay the injection of the second dose in order to deliver one dose more quickly to more people.
While this decision is not backed by BioNTech or Pfizer, data from the companies’ Phase 3 trials, which involved more than 43,000 people in six countries, showed that participants had partial protection against the vaccine as early as 12. days after the first dose.
Germany’s health ministry has asked the country’s immunization commission to “review and assess the available data and studies and make a recommendation on this issue,” while Joe Biden’s team said ‘she would consider a similar program in the United States.
Additional reporting by Hannah Kuchler in New York