BioNTech SE, a clinical-stage Biotechnology company and a forerunner in the global quest for a COVID-19 vaccine, has announced an investment of USD 250 million by Temasek and other accredited investors in a private placement round. The investment includes USD 139 million of direct equity investment and USD 112 million of 4-year mandatory convertible notes. The funding comes at a critical juncture when it can accelerate BioNTech’s efforts on the mRNA based COVID-19 vaccine. A NASDAQ listed company with its roots in Mainz, Germany, the company was earlier recognized primarily for its strong pipeline of therapeutics for personalized cancer care. Leveraging its strengths in the mRNA platform, BioNTech has successfully championed one of the six COVID-19 vaccine candidates today that have already advanced to Phase III clinical validation.
The vaccine candidate is being developed in partnership with Pfizer for all markets excluding China. This builds on a pre-existing collaboration between the two companies for an influenza vaccine. While Pfizer will bankroll the development costs, the cost sharing co-development model requires BioNTech to repay half of the charges during vaccine commercialization. Deal terms include Pfizer paying BioNTech USD 185 million upfront (including USD 113 million as equity) and aggregate transaction consideration of USD 563 million.
For co-development and commercialization of the vaccine in China, BioNTech forged a strategic partnership with Fosun Pharma. The transaction entailed USD 50 million equity investment upfront and aggregate transaction consideration of USD 135 million including future investment and milestone payments. In the month of June, BioNTech also received debt financing of USD 112 million from the European Investment Bank for the development of the vaccine BNT162 and to expand manufacturing capacity for worldwide supply.
BioNTech became the first European company to enter clinical testing for the COVID-19 vaccine and the company has one of the broadest development programs globally for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, parallelly testing four vaccine candidates. BioNTech also made an encouraging recent announcement of early data from the Phase1/2 trial of the vaccine. BNT162b1, one of the four vaccine candidates, an mRNA vaccine that encodes trimerized SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein RBD was well tolerated and demonstrated dose dependent immunogenicity. The 24-patient data measured RBD-binding IgG concentrations and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody titers; and is the basis for the vaccine now advancing to Phase III. BioNTech and Pfizer expect to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020 and more than 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021. As we had discussed in our earlier post, Governments have rushed to secure their share of COVID-19 vaccine supply and have made deals with companies with funding support in lieu of supply commitment. More recently, the UK Government also announced a partnership with BioNTech and Pfizer to procure 30 million doses. With closure of the latest funding round, BioNTech is armed with a stronger balance sheet to accelerate the development and deliver on the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine available at scale before the end of 2020.