Pfizer signs new collaboration targeting COVID-19 vaccine

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Pfizer has followed the release of its five-point plan on responding to COVID-19 by announcing an agreement with German-based BioNTech regarding the co-development and distribution of a potential mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine against COVID-19.

This new collaboration comes just days after Moderna Therapeutics' confirmed it had begun the first human trial of an investigational vaccine against COVID-19. Other companies, including Sanofi, Gilead and AbbVie, are testing existing medicines as potential treatments for COVID-19.

Pfizer CEO Dr Albert Bourla recently announced the five-point plan starting with 'sharing tools and insights'. The plan also includes creating a research team focussed exclusively on COVID-19, making its scientific resources available to smaller biotechnology companies, as well as offering its manufacturing capability to any breakthrough.

In a new statement, Pfizer said the collaboration aims to accelerate the development of BioNTech’s potential first-in-class COVID-19 mRNA vaccine program, BNT162. It is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of April 2020.

The companies established their first collaboration in 2018 to develop mRNA-based vaccines for prevention of influenza.

“We are proud that our ongoing, successful relationship with BioNTech gives our companies the resiliency to mobilize our collective resources with extraordinary speed in the face of this worldwide challenge,” said Mikael Dolsten, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer. “We believe that by pairing Pfizer’s development, regulatory and commercial capabilities with BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine technology and expertise as one of the industry leaders, we are reinforcing our commitment to do everything we can to combat this escalating pandemic, as quickly as possible.”

“This is a global pandemic, which requires a global effort. In joining forces with our partner Pfizer, we believe we can accelerate our effort to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to people around the world who need it,” said Ugur Sahin, Co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech.

The companies said they expect to utilise multiple research and development sites from both companies, including in the US and Germany, to house the activities identified under the collaboration agreement.