Shares of BioNTech (BNTX -1.83%) were falling 7.3% as of 11:24 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. The German biotech didn't announce any news. The most likely reason behind the decline was that Sanofi (SNY 2.15%) is expanding its collaboration with Translate Bio (TBIO) to develop messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. The new deal between the two companies could be worth up to $1.9 billion.
The expansion of the relationship between Sanofi and Translate Bio underscores the increased competition that is emerging in the arena of mRNA vaccines. Moderna is also developing mRNA vaccines, including a highly publicized COVID-19 vaccine.
But the sell-off of BioNTech could be overdone. The company already has two big partners for its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine -- Pfizer and Chinese drugmaker Fosun Pharma. BioNTech has also teamed up with Pfizer, Genmab, and Roche on other mRNA programs.
In addition, BioNTech has a big head start with its COVID-19 vaccine compared to Translate Bio. While Sanofi and Translate Bio don't expect to advance their COVID-19 vaccine candidate into early-stage testing until the fourth quarter of 2020, BioNTech began a phase 1/2 clinical study of its COVID-19 vaccine in Germany in April with a U.S. clinical trial starting in early May.
The main thing to watch with BioNTech is the clinical progress for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. BioNTech expects to report preliminary results from phase 1 studies by July. Positive news from these studies should provide a big catalyst for the biotech stock.