A Chinese drug company has received 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE as the country searches for home-made shots as well as overseas shots to ensure immunization for the world’s most populous nation.
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., which signed an agreement with BioNTech in March to develop and commercialize the mRNA shot in China, will make an advance payment of 250 million euros for the first 50 million doses. The German vaccine maker will ship no less than 100 million doses to China by the end of 2021, Fosun said in a statement submitted to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
While the shot is known worldwide as the one co-developed by Pfizer, the US company is not part of the deal.
Experimental recordings developed by local developers, including the state-owned China National Biotec Group Co. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd., are about to be approved by the Chinese drug regulatory authorities. 1.6 billion doses are expected to be administered by 2021.
The vaccines require two shots, however, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to make successful shots available to developing countries as well. This will create a deficit as China tries to vaccinate its 1.4 billion people, increasing the need for additional care.
AstraZeneca Plc has also signed a contract with a local partner to bring its vaccine to China. Meanwhile, several Chinese developers like CanSino Biologics Inc. and Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co. are developing vaccinations earlier, and their shots will boost domestic supplies once they clear regulatory hurdles.
While the test results show that the Pfizer BioNTech shot is 95% effective against Covid-19, none of the Chinese manufacturers have officially released effectiveness data.
The Pfizer BioNTech shot has already been approved for emergencies in the USA and Great Britain, among others. Fosun will seek a regulatory nod in China using data from an ongoing local Phase II study and Phase III testing overseas.
Last week, Fosun won an order from Hong Kong for 7.5 million cans.