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BioNTech lifts revenue forecast as Covid vaccine orders climb

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BioNTech has lifted its revenue forecast for its blockbuster coronavirus vaccine to €17bn this year, as demand for the jab continues to grow.

The German biotech, which launched the first Covid-19 vaccine in partnership with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, said on Tuesday that revenues would be €1bn higher than previously forecast.

The company now expects to sell 2.5bn doses of the vaccine this year, after signing contracts for another 300m doses in the past three months. By the end of the year, it would have produced 3bn jabs, it said.

“We continue to work diligently to respond to global vaccine needs with a commitment to ensure equitable vaccine access,” said Ugur Sahin, the company’s chief executive, in a statement.

The revenue uplift comes after Pfizer last week more than doubled its forecast sales from the vaccine to $36bn.

Demand for the jab had grown alongside regulatory approval in the US and Europe, said Sahin, as well as the authorisation of booster shots in many countries. A recent surge in infections across Europe could fuel orders for boosters in the coming months.

BioNTech’s fortunes soared after the New York-listed, Mainz-based start-up brought to market the first vaccine using messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, technology. It was quickly followed by US rival Moderna.

“We had a strong order book in place for 2021, and several contracts for 2022 and beyond,” said Sean Marett, the chief business officer, who added that several negotiations were under way.

The EU has a deal for 900m doses with Pfizer and BioNTech, with an option to double its order for the year 2022 and 2023, making it the largest-ever pharmaceutical supply contract agreed.

Marett said 1bn doses had already been ordered for 2022 and the following years.

In August, BioNTech launched a trial for variant-specific versions of the coronavirus vaccine. Alongside Pfizer, the company is looking at jabs that combine variant vaccines, as well as a shot that inoculates against both coronavirus and influenza.

But Ozlem Tureci, chief medical officer, said studies of booster shots using the original vaccine had shown a strong response to both the original and variant strains of coronavirus.

The latest results, she said, suggested a third shot not only worked at “prolonging protection, a booster may increase the breadth of the neutralising response against [variants]”.

Over the past nine months, BioNTech has powered to €7.1bn in net profits, against net losses of €351m for the same period in 2020.

The company is funnelling much of its earnings into its oncology research in Europe, with plans for four different phase 2 trials. It also has R&D programmes in Africa working on potential vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

“We see infectious disease as a long-term growth pillar for BioNTech,” said Sahin. “We believe the technology behind the Covid-19 vaccine has potential against a range of other infectious diseases, as well as a potential to play an important role in future pandemic preparedness programmes.”

BioNTech, which reported a cash position of €2.39m for the third quarter, plans to spend €950m to €1.5bn on research and development.

Shares in the group shed early gains to sit about 3 per cent lower by late morning trade in New York as the wider market fell.

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