BioNTech to Make Covid-19 Vaccines in Singapore
By Bojan Pancevski
BERLIN -- Pfizer Inc. vaccine partner BioNTech SE said it would
set up a new Asia headquarters in Singapore to produce its Covid-19
vaccine and other medicines, as global demand for the lifesaving
shots continues to grow.
The new factory, which is supported by Singapore's Economic
Development Board, a government agency, is expected to become
operational in 2023, BioNTech said. The company didn't release any
information regarding the cost of the project and the scale of
The fact that it is likely to take two years to set up the
production line underlines the complexity of manufacturing the
so-called mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech. The
companies have pointed to this complexity as an argument against
waiving the patent on their shot for it to be manufactured in
developing countries, a move the U.S. is pushing for.
BioNTech, a small German drugmaker focused on cancer treatments,
came up with the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the
U.S. and Europe. BioNTech and Pfizer market the shot together,
except in Germany, Turkey and China, where BioNTech operates
The company said in a written statement that it selected
Singapore for its regional headquarters and would build a highly
automated mRNA manufacturing site for vaccines and therapeutics for
infectious diseases and cancer.
"With this planned mRNA production facility, we will increase
our overall network capacity and expand our ability to manufacture
and deliver our mRNA vaccines and therapies to people around the
world," said BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin.
"Singapore provides an excellent business climate, growing
biotechnology industry and rich talent base," Dr. Sahin added.
Construction is expected to begin this year. When the factory
comes online in two years, the site is expected to have an annual
capacity of several hundred million doses, as well as
rapid-response production capability for potential pandemic threats
in the region.
Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the EDB, said in a written statement
that BioNTech's mRNA manufacturing facility would contribute
significantly to the region's ability to address future pandemic
In September last year, BioNTech purchased a state-of-the-art
factory in Germany from Novartis Pharma GmbH to expand its Covid-19
vaccine production. Yet the factory in Marburg, located some 70
miles from BioNTech's headquarters in the city of Mainz, took more
than six months to begin producing its first doses, because of the
complicated technology transfer, the need for upgrades to the site
and the stringent certification process.
Similarly, it took nearly eight months for Pfizer, one of the
world's largest pharmaceutical companies, to absorb BioNTech's
proprietary technology and start producing vaccines at scale.
BioNTech said earlier that it would soon set up a production
site in China with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. to
supply the Chinese market. China has ordered as many as 100 million
doses from BioNTech and Fosun Pharma.
Write to Bojan Pancevski at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 10, 2021 01:44 ET (05:44 GMT)
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