Two Germany pharmaceutical groups - CureVac and BioNTech SE - are at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine development. For them to fast-track their clinical programs the government is throwing in its support in hopes of producing a safe and effective treatment.
Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research released $745 million in funding to help the two biotechnology companies work on a Messenger RNA-based vaccine and expand the government's production capacity.
BioNTech might get up to $444 million to speed up its BNT162 vaccine in tandem with Pfizer Inc. of the U.S. while CureVac might receive up to nearly $300 million to continue with its own program.
The money will help BioNTech proceed with its experimental vaccine through expanded testing, the company said. One type of the BNT162 candidate is currently in third-stage human trials and the company hopes to get regulatory authorization next month, pharmaceutical industry, Food and Drug Administration decisions, patents, marketing and generic drugs news organization Fierce Pharma reported.
BioNTech and Pfizer have already started their late-stage trials on a potential treatment and have begun enrolling participants in the U.S., Europe, Argentina and Brazil.
Meanwhile, discussions with a third biotechnology group, IDT Biologika, are expected to conclude soon, Germany's Science Minister Anja Karliczek said. IDT is developing a vector-based treatment that infuses a coronavirus protein into human cells to boost the body's immune reactions.
BioNTech and Pfizer have agreed to supply around 200 million doses to the European Union before the end of the year if the vaccine gets the go signal from the government. Separately, CureVac said it was in talks with the European Commission to provide around 225 million doses - with an option for up to 180 million more.
According to Germany's Research Minister Anja Karliczek, safety is the main concern to guarantee vaccines will not only get the approval of regulators but be accepted by citizens, too.
"Even when the world is waiting for a vaccine - we will not take risky short cuts," Karliczek said during a news conference in Berlin referring to alleged political pressure to accelerate programs, Reuters quoted the official as saying.