BioNTech CEO Says COVID Vaccine Producers Can Supply Entire World in Next Year

Vaccine producers can supply the entire world within the next year, the CEO of BioNTech said Monday.

Ugur Sahin said his German pharmaceutical company, along with U.S.-based Pfizer, have already delivered vaccines to over 90 countries.

"We believe, together with the other vaccine developers, in the next 9 to 12 months, that there will be more than enough vaccines produced and there is absolutely no need for waiving patents," Sahin said during a call with investors.

"We have now scaled the manufacturing capacity up to 3 billion doses in 2021, and more than 40% of these doses are expected to go to middle- and low-income countries."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

German Company BioNTech
BioNTech's CEO said Monday that COVID-19 vaccine producers will be able to supply the entire world in the next year. Above, a cleanroom at BioNTech's new manufacturing site on March 27, 2021, in Marburg, central Germany. Thomas Lohnes/AFP via Getty Images

Sahin said Monday that there is no need to waive patents on coronavirus vaccines.

Waiving patents would not ease supply shortages in the coming months, he said, citing the complexity of producing the mRNA-based shot his company developed last year.

Sahin rejected the U.S.-backed proposal to temporarily lift some intellectual property rights for vaccines in order to boost global supply during the ongoing pandemic.

He said his company is working to further expand its manufacturing network with its own sites, such as one now planned in Singapore, and through cooperation with other manufacturers to ensure greater supply while maintaining the quality of the vaccine. But he also noted that rival manufacturers have their own shots either on the market already or in the pipeline.

In a call with investors announcing the company's first-quarter net profit of 1.13 billion euros ($1.37 billion), Sahin said BioNTech and Pfizer, its U.S. partner, more than doubled its forecast production capacity for the year.

Sahin said the company's estimated revenues have sharply increased from January to March, reaching over 2 billion euros compared to 28 million euros during the same time last year.

BioNTech's estimated revenues surged after it launched the first widely used vaccine against COVID-19 together with Pfizer, which holds the market and distribution rights in much of the world.

The Mainz-based company said its revenues included over 1.75 billion euros in gross profits from vaccine sales in Pfizer's territories, and almost 200 million from sales to customers in its region. Based on current orders for some 1.8 billion doses, it expects full-year revenues of 12.4 billion euros in 2021.

BioNTech shares rose by more than 7% to $196.60 in early trading Monday on Nasdaq.

The results are a significant turnaround for the company, which had a net loss of 53 million euros in the first quarter of 2020.

Early last year as the pandemic began, BioNTech pivoted from researching treatments for cancer to developing a vaccine against COVID-19. Like its rival, Moderna, the company's vaccine uses mRNA technology to prime the body's immune system to attack the virus.

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 BioNTech Company Sign
The BioNTech building where the company produces the COVID-19 vaccine, on February 13, 2021, in Marburg, Germany. Michael Probst/AP Photo