BioNTech wins US$445m German grant for Covid-19 vaccine

The headquarters of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech in Mainz, Germany July 31, 2018. — Reuters pic
The headquarters of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech in Mainz, Germany July 31, 2018. — Reuters pic

BERLIN, Sept 15 — German biotech firm BioNTech said today it had secured almost US$450 million (RM1.86 billion) in government funding to speed up work on its Covid-19 vaccine candidate and expand its production capacity in Germany.

BioNTech and partners Pfizer Inc and China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd are among the leading developers of experimental Covid-19 vaccines, based on molecules carrying a genetic code called messenger RNA (mRNA).

Mainz-based BioNTech, founded in 2008 and listed on the Nasdaq exchange last year, said it had been awarded €375 million in funding, after applying under a scheme announced in July by Research Minister Anja Karliczek.

It will use the money, which is subject to it reaching certain clinical milestones, to finance part of its Covid-19 vaccine development programme, which it calls BNT162.

“The funding is an important contribution to accelerate the development and expansion of our production capacity for a Covid 19 vaccine in Germany,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech.

The company said it was one of three vaccine programmes to be awarded funding from a government pot of €750 million that aims to expand production capacity in Germany and increase the number of people involved in late-stage testing.

Fellow German biotech firm CureVac said earlier this month it had been awarded €252 million in government to support its vaccine candidate.

BioNTech and Pfizer are already testing their most promising vaccine candidate in late-stage trials and have started recruiting patients in the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Europe. — Reuters

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