Novartis Signs Pact to Help Produce Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

Novartis Signs Pact to Help Produce Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

Novartis AG, the Swiss drugmaker, agreed to help produce the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, boosting efforts to meet demand amid concerns about supply constraints.

Production is due to begin in the second quarter, with estimated delivery in the third quarter, according to a statement from the company on Friday. The pharma giant will rely on manufacturing facilities at a site in Stein, Switzerland.

Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan told Bloomberg on Thursday that Novartis was in conversations with a range of companies to help produce coronavirus vaccines or treatments as the industry mobilizes to boost supply amid fights over access.

French drugmaker Sanofi earlier this week said it would give BioNTech access to a production facility in Frankfurt after its own research stumbled. Germany’s Merck KGaA is also considering several ways to help the biotech firm increase capacity, including in the so-called fill-and-finish stage of vaccine production, according to a spokesman.

Under the new agreement, Novartis plans to take bulk messenger RNA material -- the active ingredient from BioNTech -- and fill it into vials. Quantities were not disclosed.

“We expect this to be the first of a number of such agreements,” Steffen Lang, head of Novartis technical operations, said in a statement.

Novartis shares traded 0.9% lower in Zurich.

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