Germany grants BioNTech, CureVac $745m to advance Covid-19 vaccine work
BioNTech, which is developing a Covid-19 vaccine with US-based Pfizer, is set to receive up to €375m (US$445m), while CureVac is to be awarded €252m.
Talks are said to be continuing with IDT Biologika.
The grants are contingent upon the companies achieving development milestones.
'We want a safe and effective vaccine'
German minister for health, Jens Spahn, speaking at a press conference with German research minister Anja Karliczek, yesterday, said the funding initiative was not “about being first. Rather, we want an effective and safe vaccine.”
Vaccinations make it possible for us to learn to live with a virus, said the health minister. “This virus will stay - the key is to get it under control.”
Reacting to the grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech, said: “The funding is an important contribution to accelerate the development and scaling-up of our COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacities in Germany."
BioNTech and Pfizer are developing a nucleoside-modified messenger RNA vaccine candidate - BNT162b2 - that expresses the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein.
In a statement released yesterday, BioNTech said Pfizer would continue to independently fund its share of development costs for BNT162b2 without use of this or other government funding.
The partners are running phase 3 trials of BNT162b2 globally.
Patient recruitment, according to yesterday’s statement, has commenced on three continents and over 28,000 participants have already been enrolled worldwide with study sites in the US, Brazil, Argentina and Europe.
Assuming clinical success, Pfizer and BioNTech intend to seek regulatory review for BNT162b2 as early next month, and, if regulatory authorization or approval is obtained, they plan to supply up to 100 million doses worldwide by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
CureVac is also developing an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, and it is currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial at different study sites in Germany and Belgium. Depending on the results of that study, CureVac said it is hoping to initiate a Phase 2b/3 clinical trial of its vaccine candidate in Q4 2020.
In August, the German company reported it was in advanced discussions with the European Commission about it buying an initial 225 million doses of its mRNA vaccine. The Commission was also said to be seeking an option to buy an additional 180 million doses.