Novartis (NYSE:NVS) has entered an initial agreement with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) for manufacturing support to boost production of their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to help address supply shortages. This is an example of an unlikely collaboration between big pharmaceutical companies geared at the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Novartis signs vaccine manufacturing agreement with BioNTech
The company signed an initial deal with BioNTech, to allow it to use the Stein, Switzerland facility to produce the BioNTech/Pfizer mRNA vaccine candidate. Production will commence in Q2, and the partners anticipate dose deliveries from Q3, 2021. According to the terms of the agreement, BioNtech will deliver bulk mRNA active ingredients to Novartis, which will fill it into vials under aseptic conditions. Novartis will then send the vials to BioNTech for distribution across the globe.
Equally, the Novartis manufacturing team is engaging other companies to provide manufacturing capacity for mRNA components, therapeutic protein, and COVID-19 vaccine/therapeutics raw materials production. The company will release specifics of the engagements once they finalize discussions.
Novartis’ head of technical operations, Steffen Lang, said that the company is mobilizing at all fronts to support the COVID-19 pandemic response. Lang said that as a company that reimagines advanced therapy platform medicine, they are dedicated to leveraging the Novartis manufacturing capabilities to support COVID-19 vaccine supply globally. He said that they expect the agreement with BioNtech to be the first of the many agreements to come.
Novartis committed in the fight against COVID-19
Notably, Novartis has been making several contributions in the fight against COVID-19. The company committed $40 million in donations to support communities across the globe impacted by the pandemic. Novartis Gene Therapies also inked a manufacturing deal with Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital for producing a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate called AAVCOVID8.
Currently, around 50 countries have approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The EMA granted the vaccine conditional marketing authorization in its member states, with the UK, Hong Kong, Canada, and the US also granting it emergency use authorizations.