BioNTech CEO: Patent waivers are not needed

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The CEO of German coronavirus vaccine maker BioNTech said Monday he does not see a need to waive intellectual property protections, because there will be enough supply in the coming year for the rest of the world.

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

BioNTech recorded a net profit of 1.13 billion euros, or $1.37 billion, for the first three months of 2021, compared to a net loss of 53.4 million euros for the first quarter last year.

The Biden administration made waves last week when it announced support for a waiver of intellectual property and patent protections for vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Supporters of the move argue it would enable lower-income countries to gain access to vaccine recipes and start making more doses themselves.

The pharmaceutical industry, however, claims the waiver will undermine incentives for American innovation and will not actually solve the complex problem of getting more doses to lower-income countries.

Sahin echoed those arguments on Monday, saying that waiving patents would not increase short- and medium-term supply of mRNA vaccines. Setting up manufacturing for the vaccines is complex, he said, and will take at least a year.

BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer have already delivered vaccine doses to more than 90 countries, and have scaled production enough to manufacture 3 billion doses by the end of this year, more than doubling the initial forecast.

More than 40 percent of those doses are being sent to lower- and middle-income countries, Sahin added.

He said the best, and only, near-term solution is to increase the existing manufacturing network and ensure that the vaccines produced in the United States and Europe can be provided to low- and middle-income countries.

BioNTech’s estimated revenue for the first quarter jumped to more than 2 billion euros, compared with just 28 million euros in the same period last year. The company said that the massive jump was mainly due to rapidly increasing the supply of COVID-19 vaccine worldwide.

BioNTech and Pfizer own the marketing and distribution rights to the shot in much of the world.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines patent waiver

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