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Jul 31, 2020

Pfizer, BioNTech to make 120M vaccine doses for Japan

Paul Harris discusses Pfizer

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Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE agreed to provide Japan with 120 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they’re developing, accelerating countries’ push to lock up supplies of potential protection against the pandemic.

The U.S. pharma giant and the German biotech firm said they’d supply the shots in the first half of 2021. Financial details were not disclosed.

Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this week that they’ve begun a later-stage trial of their vaccine candidate and set a goal of submitting it for regulatory review as soon as October. That would be one of the most ambitious schedules to date, though rivals such as Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, in partnership with the University of Oxford, are also racing ahead.

Pfizer and BioNTech previously announced a US$2 billion deal to supply an initial 100 million doses of a vaccine to the U.S. The companies said they’re on track to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020, assuming regulatory clearance is secured, and approximately 1.3 billion shots by the end of next year.

The U.S. and the U.K. have led the way in securing supplies of shots. AstraZeneca said in June that it was in discssions with the Japanese government on a supply arrangement for the jab it’s developing with Oxford.

Japan has been hit by a recent spike in virus infections after it was relatively unscathed by the pandemic as much of the rest of the world reeled. The Tokyo Olympics originally scheduled for this summer have been delayed until next year.

Pfizer shares were 0.2 per cent higher in premarket trading, with BioNTech depositary receipts up 6.3 per cent.

Pfizer and BioNTech are testing a two-dose regimen of their vaccine, meaning 120 million shots would be enough to cover close to half of Japan’s population.