BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) said it is going to deliver 50mln doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed with US giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in countries that are approving it by the end of this month.
The jab was the first COVID-19 inoculation approved in Western countries and the first-ever mRNA vaccine approved anywhere in the world, after the UK issued emergency use authorisation on Wednesday.
READ: UK first country to approve Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
Also on Wednesday, the partners have submitted a formal application to the EU authorities while they are expecting a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration on December 10.
The UK has secured 40mln doses of the jab, enough to immunise 20mln people, and is set to start the rollout to healthcare staff and vulnerable people next week.
However, all the doses being produced this year are not being delivered to the UK alone, which will receive a “fair allocation”, BioNTech chief business and chief commercial officer Sean Marett told a press conference on Wednesday.
It is not clear how many doses will be sent to the UK by the end of 2020.
Pfizer will be responsible for these deliveries from the facility in Belgium which is “ready for shipping very, very quickly”, Marett said, while the existing cold supply chain is expected to see minimal changes.
Experts have been concerned about the viability of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, because, unlike its peers, it has to be stored at extra cold temperatures of -70?C.
Vials will be shipped in boxes, called ‘shippers’, that can hold between 1000 and 5000 doses and contain a tracker to measure the temperature at all times. They will be transported by lorry or by plane.
Each vial contains five doses because its content can be diluted with normal saline solution.
Once delivered, they can remain stable at fridge temperatures of 2-8?C for up to five days.
People will be able to be vaccinated in over 1,500 immunisation centres in England alone, the biotech said.
Pfizer has currently committed to deliver 570mln doses, with potential to add another 600mln, this and next year but the numbers continue to change as the pharma giant progresses discussions with various countries.
On top of the 40mln allocated to the UK, the EU has secured 200mln with the option for an extra 100mln, Japan has booked 120mln and the US has agreed for 100mln doses with option for an additional 500mln.
BioNTech only revealed the agreed price with the US, standing at US$1.95bn for the first 100mln doses.
The German firm and Pfizer have a 50-50 partnership worldwide except for Greater China, where the vaccine will be distributed and commercialised by Fosun Pharma.
BioNTech shot up 5% to US$119.45 while Pfizer rose 3% to US$40.65 in premarket trading.