Friday, January 1st, 2021
“Then it was too late for now”
Biontech boss astonishes the calmness of the EU
Thanks to the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer, millions of people in the US have already been vaccinated. In the EU, on the other hand, the vaccination campaign starts later and more slowly. Also because vaccination doses are still too scarce. The Biontech boss sees the EU’s purchasing strategy as part of the problem.
The Mainz company Biontech is working under high pressure to build up new production capacities for the corona vaccine. “At the moment things are not looking rosy, there is a hole because there are no other approved vaccines, and we have to fill this gap with our vaccine,” said Biontech boss Uğur Şahin in “Spiegel”. But Germany will “get enough vaccine”.
The lack of vaccine is also related to the EU’s purchasing policy, Şahin said. “There was the assumption that many other companies come with vaccines. Apparently the impression prevailed: We’ll get enough, everything won’t be so bad, and we have that under control. I was surprised,” said the Biontech boss.
The idea of the EU and other governments to put together a basket from different providers actually makes perfect sense, explained Biontech chief physician Özlem Türeci. “At some point, however, it turned out that many of them cannot deliver on time. Then it was too late to order extensively elsewhere.”
“Everything else as trivial”
According to “Spiegel”, the US had secured 600 million cans from Biontech / Pfizer in July, twice as many as the EU, which only placed the order in November. “The process in Europe was certainly not as quick and straightforward as it was in other countries,” said Şahin. “Also because the European Union is not directly authorized, but the states have a say.”
Increasing production in the short term is “anything but trivial”: “It is not as if specialized factories all over the world are idle and can produce vaccines of the required quality overnight.” Biontech has already “commissioned five manufacturers in Europe to support production,” said Türeci. “Further contracts are being negotiated.”
Several politicians recently called for vaccine production to be accelerated significantly. FDP leader Christian Lindner called for the legal, economic, political and technological prerequisites to be created for a “crisis production”. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder also called for more speed in vaccine production.