Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the emergency use of the mRNA vaccine, BNT162b2, against COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age or older. The vaccine is now authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) while Pfizer and BioNTech gather additional data and prepare to file a planned Biologics License Application (BLA) with the FDA for a possible full regulatory approval in 2021.
Under Operation Warp Speed, the Department of Defense (DoD) in partnership with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will manage allocation and distribution of the vaccine in the U.S. This will be prioritized according to the populations identified by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines.
“Pfizer’s purpose is breakthroughs that change patients’ lives, and in our 171-year history there has never been a more urgent need for a breakthrough than today with hundreds of thousands of people continuing to suffer from COVID-19,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “As a U.S. company, today’s news brings great pride and tremendous joy that Pfizer has risen to the challenge to develop a vaccine that has the potential to help bring an end to this devastating pandemic. We have worked tirelessly to make the impossible possible, steadfast in our belief that science will win.”
“We founded BioNTech to develop new technologies and medicines that utilize the full potential of the immune system to fight serious diseases,” said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “Today we are another step closer to our vision. We believe that today’s Emergency Use Authorization, and the subsequent distribution of our vaccine that has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 95% and a favorable safety profile, will help to save lives across the United States and could accelerate a return to normality.”
The FDA based its decision on the totality of scientific evidence shared by the companies, including data from a pivotal Phase 3 clinical study announced last month and published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. The Phase 3 data demonstrated a vaccine efficacy rate of 95% in participants without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (first primary objective) and also in participants with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (second primary objective), in each case measured from 7 days after the second dose. The Data Monitoring Committee for the study has not reported any serious safety concerns related to the vaccine. Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. All trial participants will continue to be monitored to assess long-term protection and safety for an additional two years after their second dose.
Pfizer and BioNTech appreciate the continued participation of the approximately 44,000 trial volunteers and remain committed to the companies’ pledge to always make their safety and well-being the companies’ top priority. The participants in our COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial are courageous volunteers who have made a personal and important choice to help make a difference during this pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to provide an option for trial participants who received the placebo to receive the vaccine at scheduled timepoints in the study. This vaccine transition option will be voluntary and will be implemented in alignment with the regulatory authorities where the trial is conducted.
In July 2020, Pfizer and BioNTech announced an agreement with the HHS and the DoD to meet the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program goal to deliver doses of a vaccine for COVID-19. With the vaccine being authorized for emergency use in the U.S., the companies will begin delivering the first doses in the U.S. immediately, with delivery fulfillment expected to be completed in 2021.
Please see Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) and Full EUA Prescribing Information available at www.cvdvaccine.com
About the Phase 2/3 Study
The ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial of BNT162b2, which is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology, has enrolled more than 44,000 participants, the vast majority of whom have received their second dose. A breakdown of the diversity of clinical trial participants can be found here from more than 150 clinical trial sites in the U.S., Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.
The Phase 3 trial is designed as a 1:1 vaccine candidate to placebo, randomized, observer-blinded study to obtain safety, immune response, and efficacy data needed for regulatory review. The trial’s primary endpoints are prevention of COVID-19 in those who have not been infected by SARS-CoV-2 prior to immunization, and prevention of COVID-19 regardless of whether participants have previously been infected by SARS-CoV-2. Secondary endpoints include prevention of severe COVID-19 in those groups. The study also will explore prevention of infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Data from this study, including longer term safety, comprehensive information on duration of protection, efficacy against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, and safety and immunogenicity in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age will be gathered in the months ahead. Additional studies are planned to evaluate BNT162b2 in pregnant women, children younger than 12 years, and those in special risk groups, such as the immunocompromised.
Manufacturing and Delivery Capabilities
Pfizer and BioNTech continue to work in collaboration with governments and Ministries of Health around the world that will distribute the vaccine, subject to country authorization or approval and terms of supply agreements, to help ensure it can reach those most in need as quickly as possible. The companies are leveraging Pfizer’s leading vaccine manufacturing and distribution capabilities to quickly scale, manufacture and distribute large quantities of the vaccine at high quality, complementing BioNTech’s mRNA manufacturing expertise gained over almost a decade. Pfizer has a 171-year track record of researching, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative medicines and vaccines to patients in need. Pfizer and BioNTech are confident in their ability to deliver the vaccine to people in the U.S. Based on current projections, Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s combined manufacturing network has the potential to supply globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021 (subject to manufacturing capacity and regulatory approval or authorization).
Pfizer is leveraging three of its U.S. manufacturing sites to produce the COVID-19 vaccine – Saint Louis, Missouri, Andover, Massachusetts, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Pfizer’s Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin and Puurs, Belgium sites are also being used.
Pfizer has vast experience and expertise in cold-chain shipping and has an established infrastructure to supply the vaccine worldwide, including distribution hubs that can store vaccine doses for up to six months. The company’s distribution is built on a flexible just-in-time system that can ship the frozen vials quickly to designated points of vaccination at the time of need, minimizing the need for long term storage. Vaccination in a pandemic situation is expected to be rapid, and we do not expect that the product will need to be stored at any location for more than 30 days. To assure product quality, the companies have developed specially designed, temperature-controlled shippers for the vaccine, which can maintain recommended storage conditions (-70°C ±10°C) for extended periods of time with dry ice. The shipper can maintain temperature for 10 days unopened which allows for transportation to markets globally. Once open, a vaccination center may use the specially designed shippers as a temporary storage solution to maintain the recommended storage conditions (-70°C ±10°C) up to 30 days with re-icing every five days in accordance with the handling instructions. Each shipper contains a GPS-enabled thermal sensor to track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once thawed, the vaccine vial can be stored safely for up to five days at refrigerated (2-8°C) conditions.
From the start of the research program earlier this year, Pfizer and BioNTech have successfully supplied and distributed their investigational vaccine to more than 150 clinical trial sites across the U.S., as well as Europe, Latin America and South Africa reaching approximately 44,000 participants. Based on their collective experience, the companies believe in their capability to distribute the vaccine globally upon approval or authorization. BioNTech will hold the regulatory approvals in the U.S., U.K., Canada and, if authorized, in the EU, and other countries. Pfizer will have marketing and distribution rights worldwide with the exception of China, Germany, and Turkey.
About Pfizer: Breakthroughs That Change Patients’ Lives
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.
Biopharmaceutical New Technologies is a next generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases. The Company exploits a wide array of computational discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the rapid development of novel biopharmaceuticals. Its broad portfolio of oncology product candidates includes individualized and off-the-shelf mRNA-based therapies, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, bi-specific checkpoint immuno-modulators, targeted cancer antibodies and small molecules. Based on its deep expertise in mRNA vaccine development and in-house manufacturing capabilities, BioNTech and its collaborators are developing multiple mRNA vaccine candidates for a range of infectious diseases alongside its diverse oncology pipeline. BioNTech has established a broad set of relationships with multiple global pharmaceutical collaborators, including Genmab, Sanofi, Bayer Animal Health, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Regeneron, Genevant, Fosun Pharma, and Pfizer.