BioNTech: ‘No evidence’ its Covid vaccine needs adapting

German drug maker says it has strategy to address variants should the need arise

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Drug maker BioNTech said there is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with Pfizer needs adapting to protect against virus variants.

It did, however, say that it began tests in March on a modified shot should the need arise in the future. An assessment is also under way into the impact a third dose could have on immunity and protection against variants.

"To date, there is no evidence that an adaptation of BioNTech's current Covid-19 vaccine against key identified emerging variants is necessary," the company said, as it announced its first-quarter results.

“Despite this, BioNTech has developed a comprehensive strategy to address these variants should the need arise in the future,” it said.

The German firm also announced plans to set up a regional centre and factory in Singapore to "address potential pandemic threats" in the region. It is hoped the facility will have the capacity to produce several hundred million vaccine doses a year once it opens in 2023.

BioNTech and Pfizer have dispensed around 450 million doses of their vaccine to 91 countries and territories worldwide.

BioNTech said it expects to have the ability to manufacture three billion doses annually by the end of 2021 and more than three billion by 2022.

“Through our continued innovation, we are expanding access to new populations and geographies, and addressing emerging variants,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief executive.