German, US companies' COVID-19 vaccine cooperation normal, not sign of decoupling from China

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/18 14:06:34

A scinetist is doing research on a vaccine against COVID-19 in Shanghai.Photo:Yang Hui/GT

The latest cooperation between German and US firms BioNTech and Pfizer on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, which excludes China, is not a Western attempt to decouple from China as Chinese pharmaceutical giant Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co has already signed an exclusive deal with BioNTech to develop a vaccine in China. 

A Fosun subsidiary on Sunday obtained exclusive permission from German life sciences company BioNTech to develop and commercialize mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, Fosun told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The two companies will collaborate to conduct clinical trials in China, leveraging Fosun's extensive clinical development, regulatory and commercial capabilities in the country, Fosun said. BioNTech will supply the mRNA vaccine for clinical trials from Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facilities in Europe.

"We see this collaboration as an important step in our global efforts to expedite the development of mRNA vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infection. Fosun Pharma shares our commitment to move rapidly to address the COVID-19 outbreak and brings deep development experience and an extensive network to the pharmaceutical market in China," said BioNTech Founder and CEO Ugur Sahin.

According to the deal, Fosun will pay roughly $85 million in licensing fees to BioNTech, as well as a sales commission equal to 35 percent of the product's annual gross profits during the agreed sales commission period. 

Following the Chinese firm's cooperation with BioNTech, US pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to co-develop and distribute a potential mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine with BioNTech. The potential vaccine is known as BNT162 and will enter clinical trials in late April. China is excluded from the deal as the statement clearly outlined in the press release.

BioNTech is a next-generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases. On Tuesday, its stocks soared 66.5 percent following the closure of the deal. 

The virus knows no borders, and international cooperation is the right way to fight the epidemic, said Wei Jigang, a research fellow with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

"Vaccines and protective materials are meant to save people. They have a commercial nature, but it also a social nature," Wei said. "What we are talking about now is connectivity and a community with a shared future in which each country has to work together to play to each other's strengths."

Pfizer had not responded to the Global Times' request for comment as of press time.


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