Pfizer plans to dramatically increase its vaccine manufacturing capacity and is ready to drop German company it partnered with in Covid shot breakthrough
- Pharmaceutical giant plans to use gene-based technology leveraged by BioNTech
- Pfizer said it no longer “needs” BioNTech after their partnership at Covid-jab
- Firm has recruited 50 mRNA scientists to start trials in a lab in New York
Pfizer has admitted it could leave the German biotech company that made its breakthrough with the coronavirus as it wants to drastically expand its vaccine business.
The US drug giant has unveiled plans to use gene-based technology leveraged by BioNTech to target other viruses and diseases outside of Covid.
Pfizer’s boss claimed he learned all about mRNA vaccines to go solo, adding that it no longer has to work “ with BioNTech. ”
Albert Bourla, the company’s chief executive, revealed that the company had recruited at least 50 additional scientists to work from its new mRNA-focused lab in New York.
It has also provided specialized raw materials and designed clinical trials so that it can produce and study vaccines without distributing profit.
Mr. Bourla told it Wall Street Journal: ‘We like to work with BioNTech, but don’t have to work with BioNTech. We have developed our own expertise. ‘
The German company was the mastermind behind the Covid shot, which was proven to be 95 percent effective at blocking Covid symptoms and became the first in the world to receive approval in December when Britain gave the green light.
Pfizer, best known for inventing Viagra, came on board to manufacture, distribute and commercialize the vaccine.
The two companies are currently evenly dividing profits on the Covid jab, with revenue expected to be around £ 13 billion this year.
Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, said the drug giant no longer ‘needs to work with BioNTech’
The German company was the mastermind behind the Covid shot – proven to be 95 percent effective – which was the first in the world to receive approval in Britain in December (file)
Analysts at JP Morgan are predicting sales in excess of £ 8.5 billion for next year’s jab, which will increase if annual booster shots are required.
A BioNTech spokeswoman told the WSJ, “We consider it great recognition for mRNA technologies that companies such as our partner Pfizer are getting involved in developing their own mRNA vaccine strategy.”
The two companies began collaborating in 2018 with the goal of creating a flu vaccine.
But that original deal will expire in July, at which point Pfizer will continue to research, manufacture, and sell every shot that has been shown to work.
How do mRNA vaccines work?
MRNA is a next-generation technology or platform to use vaccine terminology.
Traditional vaccines use one harmless, typically inactivated virus – like those that cause the common cold – to deliver a small, harmless piece of the virus that the injection protects the human body from.
The piece is enough to ‘teach’ the immune system to recognize and repel the intruder.
MRNA is easier, faster to make and much easier to modify than older types of vaccines, and even has the potential to protect against multiple viruses in one vaccine.
The coronavirus vaccine is made from volatile genetic material known as mRNA, or messenger RNA, which are tiny pieces of genetic material that mimic the coronavirus so that the immune system can learn to recognize and destroy it.
Scientists say mRNA vaccines are cheaper to make and easier to modify in the face of new variants or viruses.
The process of developing mRNA vaccines is also purely synthetic, meaning experts don’t rely on live plant or animal cells.
Making mRNA vaccines requires special equipment and raw materials that were not widely available before Covid hit.
The Pfizer / BioNTech Covid shot was the very first mRNA vaccine to receive approval for the control of any disease. Rival US company Moderna has also created an mRNA shot that has been proven to thwart the coronavirus.
Pfizer’s boss said it became self-sufficient after learning how to produce mRNA vaccines on his own, without relying on suppliers.
The New York-based company, which is one of the world’s largest pharmaceuticals, has declined to say which viruses it will take the next step with the mRNA technology.
But it is likely that booster shots of the coronavirus will be needed in the future as new variants emerge. The global flu vaccination market is also estimated to be around £ 3 billion.
Pfizer’s vaccine portfolio already includes one of the most profitable injections on the market, the pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13. It generated nearly £ 4.3 billion in sales for Pfizer last year.
It also uses traditional vaccine technology to develop injections for Lyme disease and intestinal infections.
Traditional vaccines use one harmless, typically inactivated virus – like the types that cause the common cold – to teach the immune system to recognize the threat and kill it in the future.
Moderna-jabs will roll out to the under 50s in 3 weeks as UK vaccination drive shifts up a gear
The global roll-out of vaccines in Britain will gear up in mid-April, when the Moderna shot is first deployed, The Mail on Sunday understands.
The imminent arrival of more than 500,000 doses of the new US vaccine – to add to millions of Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca injections – will usher in the expansion of the program to the under-50s.
Doctors are expected to administer the first Moderna shots within three weeks.
Code-named ‘Renown’ by the government during the US company’s development process, Moderna is manufactured by Swiss-based biotech company Lonza.
Studies found it to be 94.1 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection after the second dose.
More than 30 million first doses of vaccine have now been administered in the UK.