BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) haven't even released phase 3 clinical trial data for their coronavirus vaccine, BNT162b2, but BioNTech is already preparing to ramp up production next year through the acquisition of a manufacturing plant from Novartis (NYSE:NVS). BioNTech and Novartis didn't disclose the financial terms of the transaction.
The manufacturing plant, which is located in Marburg, Germany, can produce up to 750 million doses per year. BioNTech plans to take ownership in the fourth quarter of 2020. It will take some time to convert the plant to producing BNT162b2.
Nevertheless, the biotech has an ambitious goal of having the plant up and running quickly enough so that the company can produce 250 million doses of BNT162b2 in the first half of 2021. BioNTech noted that the quick transition is possible since the plant has "well-established biotechnology drug substance and drug product manufacturing equipment as well as an experienced team."
Given BioNTech's and Pfizer's manufacturing capacities, the companies have previously said they expect to be able to produce 100 million doses by the end of this year and 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. The vaccine is a two-dose regimen, so the actual number of patients who can be protected is half of the dose production.
Pfizer and BioNTech hope to have phase 3 clinical trial data next month that will show BNT162b2 protects participants from getting COVID-19, but the timing of the data release will ultimately be based on the rate of infection for the group that received placebo.