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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