The race to produce a coronavirus vaccine accelerated yesterday

The race to produce a coronavirus vaccine accelerated yesterday when the German group BioNTech announced a $135 million partnership with Fosun Pharma of China to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, which it said could begin clinical testing in late April. Fosun will make a $50 million equity investment in BioNTech and pay the Mainz-based company a further $85 million in vaccine development and commercialisation fees. The move came as more than 20 companies and public laboratories worldwide are already trying to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus as global anxiety about its spread continues to soar. Several, including BioNTech, are using so-called mRNA technology, which stimulates the immune system to fight Covid-19 by injecting genes from the virus that help human cells recognise it… BioNTech said that, if it received regulatory approval, it could begin clinical testing of its BNT162 vaccine on healthy volunteers next month, starting in Germany. The first candidate vaccine for Covid-19, produced by Moderna in the US, starts clinical testing this week. If BioNTech’s initial tests confirm that the vaccine is safe and elicits an immune response, more extensive clinical trials will take place in China in collaboration with Fosun, as well as in Europe and US.

Clive Cookson