BioNTech and CureVac, two German mRNA companies, have agreed to offer Germany with vaccines for future medical catastrophes for the next many years. Reuters reported that Germany would pay up to 2.86 billion euros ($3.14 billion) to tie in local vaccine production capacity until 2029, citing the country’s economy ministry. The German state endorsed plans to sign agreements with mRNA expert BioNTech as well as a CureVac-GlaxoSmithKline partnership. Contract manufacturers Wacker, CordenPharma, Celonic, and IDT are also involved, according to the media source.
While BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, developed in collaboration with Pfizer, has been a huge success, mRNA competitor CureVac has had a more difficult time. CureVac cancelled production agreements with Wacker and Celonic in September when late-stage data revealed that the first COVID-19 vaccine was only 48% effective.
CureVac’s mRNA production and formulation partnerships with Rentschler Biopharma and Novartis are unaffected by the cancellations, and the business is still working on a second-generation COVID shot with GlaxoSmithKline.
Chief Operating Officer of CureVac, Malte Greune, Ph.D., attributed the company’s decision to a “continued growth” in mRNA capacity in the biopharma business at the time of the contract cancellations. Meanwhile, a Bayer representative told the German daily Rheinische Post in October that the businesses and CureVac had agreed to cancel their COVID-19 vaccine production partnership by “mutual consent.” Despite these failures, CureVac remains committed to the mRNA production industry. In fact, the company just launched a new subsidiary devoted to its RNA printing technology, which unifies and simplifies the RNA vaccine and treatment manufacturing process.
The RNA printer has progressed from a prototype to a fully operating facility at CureVac’s headquarters in Tübingen, Germany, according to the business. For its part, BioNTech is developing a portable mRNA synthesis method, but it is focusing on Africa instead of its home nation of Germany. Modular facilities built in shipping containers are at the heart of the company’s strategy to take mRNA manufacturing to the continent. Apart from the final fill-finish stage, the remote facilities are designed to manufacture the company’s mRNA vaccine from start to finish. As per the company’s statement last month, BioNTech’s modular factories, dubbed BioNTainers, will each be able to produce about 50 million doses per year. BioNTech says it hopes to start building its first BioNTainer pod factory in Africa by the middle of the year, with plans to start in Senegal, Rwanda, and even South Africa.