American drugmaker Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech SE announced on Tuesday that they are working together to develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The two companies, which already work together to produce flu vaccines, said they signed a letter of intent outlining plans to distribute the coronavirus vaccine everywhere except China.
“This is a global pandemic, which requires a global effort,” Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, said in a statement. “In joining forces with our partner Pfizer, we believe we can accelerate our effort to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to people around the world who need it.”
The companies plan to develop the coronavirus vaccine from sites both in the U.S. and Germany. Reuters previously reported that the German government wanted to stop the Trump administration from trying to persuade another German drugmaker, CureVac, to work on a vaccine in the U.S.
On Monday, the National Institutes of Health administered the first shot in a trial for a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
However, public health officials have been stressing for weeks that a vaccine won't be available to the public for 12 to 18 months in the best circumstances.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 183,000 people have been confirmed as having the virus worldwide and more than 7,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. In the U.S., more than 4,600 cases have been confirmed and 85 deaths have been reported.