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BioNTech expects pre-reserved vaccine bottling capacity to be freed up

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – BioNTech said global capacity to bottle new COVID-19 vaccines, which is in tight supply as producers hoping to develop successful candidates book up slots, will likely be more freely available once some drop out of the race.

“If clinical trials fail or get delayed, capacity may be freed up again,” Sierk Poetting, BioNTech’s head of operations and finance, told an online news conference on Thursday.

“The (fill and finish) market is indeed very tight because everyone has reserved capacity, but I believe we will see some adjustments there once the first products are on the market,” he said.

“This is certainly a type of capacity that can be more easily transferred (than production capacity).”

More than 40 experimental vaccines are currently being tested on volunteers around the globe to combat the new coronavirus, which has claimed more than 1 million lives.

Also speaking at the briefing, German research minister Anja Karliczek reiterated a prediction that it would likely take until mid-2021 for a vaccine to be available to the overall population, as production ramp-ups would take some time.

BioNTech and its partner Pfizer have said that if they win approval for their vaccine candidate, they aim to supply up to 100 million doses worldwide by the end of 2020 and a further 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Jan Harvey)

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Pfizer, BioNTech, Regeneron Hit With Patent Lawsuits Over COVID-19 Drugs And Vaccines

Three top names in the fight against the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease that can result from it have been sued for patent infringement. The trio includes Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX). The plaintiff is privately held Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals.

Allele alleges that the three all used its mNeonGreen fluorescent protein to develop their COVID-19 products without paying royalties for the substance. Medical researchers inject fluorescent proteins into cells to track reactions within those bodies. This tracking is used to help determine the effect of medicines and vaccines on the body.

Regeneron is currently developing REGN-COV2, an experimental cocktail of two antibodies to treat COVID-19. The company became a hot topic last week when it was revealed President Donald Trump was administered REGN-COV2 as part of his treatment for COVID-19.

Pfizer and BioNTech have teamed up to develop a coronavirus vaccine; their candidate, BNT162b2, is considered one of the front-runners in the race to bring a vaccine to market.

mNeonGreen was allegedly used in both programs. Allele said in its complaint, filed in a California federal court, that “only through the use of mNeonGreen” were the companies able to develop their products with relative speed.

This, in turn, allowed them to be awarded “an immediate $400 million in grants and over $4 billion in sales of the vaccine to date,” although BNT162b2 has, like other candidates, not yet been approved for use by any major pharmaceutical regulator. Allele is seeking to recover the royalties for its product, although it wasn’t immediately clear how much it is requesting.

Regeneron said it disagreed with Allele’s complaint and would “vigorously defend” its position in court. Neither Pfizer nor BioNTech has formally reacted to the lawsuit.

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool.

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Pfizer company logo is seen in front of Pfizer's headquarters in New York The Pfizer company logo is seen in front of Pfizer’s headquarters in New York Photo: AFP / Don EMMERT

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