A coronavirus vaccine from Germany’s BioNTech has yielded positive trial results, generating immune defenses in participants that were stronger than those of the average recovered Covid-19 patient, according to preliminary data released by the company.
In a clinical study run with pharmaceuticals group Pfizer in the US, 24 people between the ages of 18 and 55 who received two doses of the vaccine had “significantly elevated” antibodies within four weeks of their first injection.
In total, there were 45 people in the study, with some receiving placebos and others getting higher doses of the vaccine. BioNTech, the first European company to release vaccine trial results, is one of several companies using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to develop a vaccine — a process that is faster than traditional methods. Shares in BioNTech, which is listed on the Nasdaq in New York, rose by almost 8 per cent on news of the trial results, while Pfizer’s share price rose by a similar percentage.
Based on the initial trial results, BioNTech and Pfizer hope to progress to a larger US trial, involving 30,000 participants, within weeks, subject to regulatory approval. Ugur Sahin, co-founder and chief executive of BioNTech, told the Financial Times the company was opting for a higher level of neutralising antibody responses in order to increase the likelihood that those vaccinated are prevented from spreading the disease, as well as from contracting it.
“If you don’t know the level required to control this virus if you don’t know the power of the enemy, you don’t want the response to be too weak,” he said. BioNTech and Pfizer expect to be able to manufacture up to 100m doses of the vaccine by the end of the year, and more than 1.2bn doses by the end of 2021, depending on the dosage size required…
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