BioNTech aiming to bring mRNA manufacturing to Asia

BioNTech will boost its mRNA capacity by building a facility in Singapore. Meanwhile a joint venture with Fosun Pharma looks to bring its COVID-19 vaccine to China.

BioNTech’s BNT162b2 became the first messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use approval in December 2020.

Since then, 450 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped to 91 countries from the firm’s manufacturing facilities in Germany and its partner Pfizer US and European production network. Now the firm is looking to create a manufacturing presence in Asia.

Image/iStock: dk_photos

Firstly, the firm said it will construct an mRNA manufacturing facility in Singapore, supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board though no further financial details have been disclosed.

According to BioNTech, the facility will provide local and global capacity of mRNA-based product candidates. While the plant is not COVID-19 focused, it will provide the firm the capabilities to respond to potential pandemic threats.

“Having multiple nodes in our production network is an important strategic step in building out our global footprint and capabilities,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “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.”

He continued: “Singapore provides an excellent business climate, growing biotechnology industry and rich talent base.”

The site is expected to provide capabilities ranging from fill-finish services to drug product and drug substance production with the firm estimating an annual capacity of hundreds of millions of doses of mRNA-based vaccines.

Construction of the facility is anticipated to begin in 2021 and the site could potentially be fully operational by 2023, creating up to 80 jobs. However, this timeline is subject to planning approval.

Secondly, BioNTech has agreed terms for a 50/50 Joint Venture (JV) with Fosun Pharma to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China.

The agreement is subject to the vaccine receiving approval in China, as well as other conditions that have not been divulged. However, the establishment of a JV would secure local manufacturing capability for China and in turn, increase BioNTech’s ability to supply vaccines to China when authorized.

BioNTech is reporting its first quarter results today and was unavailable for additional comment when approached.

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