--Sanofi has agreed with BioNTech SE to support manufacture of the latter's coronavirus vaccine

--The deal will enable supply of more than 125 million vaccine doses in the EU

--Delays in production have hit vaccine distribution programs in the EU

 

By Cecilia Butini

 

Sanofi SA said Wednesday that it would support Biontech SE in manufacturing millions of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer Inc., in an effort to ease the shortfall in the European Union.

The French pharmaceutical major said it would give BioNTech access to its production infrastructure to supply more than 125 million vaccine doses to the EU, with initial supplies coming from Sanofi's sites in Frankfurt this summer.

As total coronavirus cases worldwide topped 100 million this week, according to Johns Hopkins University's Covid-19 dashboard, vaccination in the EU is lagging behind countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

An upgrade at a distribution plant in Belgium producing Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine and a manufacturing issue at AstraZeneca PLC's facilities are behind delays which could bring tens of millions fewer vaccine doses to European states in the coming weeks than previously announced.

The EU has agreed to purchase up to 600 million doses of the vaccine produced by BioNTech and Pfizer.

In a virtual address at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen urged pharmaceutical companies to honor their obligations on vaccine delivery after the EU invested in building research capacities and production facilities.

The agreement comes as Sanofi faces challenges in developing its own vaccine candidates for the virus.

In February it plans to initiate a new Phase 2 study of the recombinant protein-based vaccine that it is developing with GlaxoSmithKline PLC, a project set back by a miscalculation in dosing in the initial clinical trials.

The company is also developing a messenger-RNA vaccine in partnership with Translate Bio Inc.

 

Write to Cecilia Butini at cecilia.butini@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 27, 2021 04:07 ET (09:07 GMT)

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