Pfizer and its German mRNA partner BioNTech have started racking up authorizations for their COVID-19 vaccine, with shots already going into patients' arms in countries like the U.K. and the U.S. Now, BioNTech has struck a deal to supply initial doses in China, where the vaccine is currently in mid-stage testing.
BioNTech, through its arrangement with local drugmaker Shanghai Fosun, will supply Mainland China with an initial 100 million doses of its mRNA vaccine, BNT162, in 2021—should the shot pass muster with domestic regulators.
BioNTech will source the doses from its production facilities in Germany, the company said in a release.
The two companies struck a strategic collaboration back in March to develop and market a potential COVID-19 vaccine based on BioNTech’s mRNA platform. Under the deal, Fosun is on the hook for up to $135 million in upfront and future milestone payments for an authorized shot, which it would commercialize in China.
In July, the Chinese firm registered a phase 1 trial of BioNTech’s first vaccine candidate, BNT162b1, with local authorities. Less than a week later, BioNTech and its partner Pfizer announced they had selected BNT162b2 as the candidate to advance to phase 2/3, linking it to lower rates of side effects.
Fosun itself made the switch in early November, opting against further development of BNT162b1 as it moved ahead with the partners' second candidate.
Later that same month, BioNTech and Fosun kicked off a phase 2 trial of BNT162b2 in Jiangsu Province, China. The study, meant to assess the safety and immunogenicity of the shot, has commenced with the recruitment of 960 healthy participants between the ages of 18 to 85 years old, BioNTech said.
Elsewhere, authorizations for Pfizer and BioNTech's shot have started trickling in. The U.K. on Dec. 2 became the first Western nation to clear the shot for emergency use. That nod was followed by a Dec. 11 U.S. authorization for the vaccine—a little more than 24 hours after it won the support of the FDA's advisory panel.