CEO of German biotechnology BioNTech told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday morning that his company’s Covid-19 vaccine, which it is developing in collaboration with Pfizer,
may be ready to submit for regulatory approval by the end of this year. It’s a less aggressive timeline than Pfizer has put out in recent days.
Pfizer (ticker: PFE) executives have said they hope to submit the vaccine for Food and Drug Administration approval this fall. In an interview with Time magazine published Thursday, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla said the company could submit the vaccine for FDA approval in September. And Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s scientific manager, said during an investor interview on July 1 that the company was planning to submit for approval in October 2020.
Neither Pfizer nor BioNTech (BNTX) immediately responded to a request for comment on the obvious difference. But the more cautious comments to the Journal from BioNTech CEO, Ugur Sahin, reflect what appears to be the CEO’s generally sober view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sahin also told the magazine that despite advances in various vaccine programs, it may take a decade to beat Covid-19.
“I guess we will only deal with this virus when more than 90% of the global population will get immunity, either through infection or through a vaccine,” Sahin told the Journal.
BioNTech’s share increased by 3.8% in the premarket trade, while the S&P 500 future was flat. The share has risen 93.7% so far this year. Of the eight analysts tracked by FactSet that cover BioNTech, six rated it a Hold.
Pfizer shares, meanwhile, increased by 0.8% in trading in the premarket. The share has fallen by 14.6% this year and is trading at 12.7 times the expected earnings over the next 12 months, according to FactSet, below its five-year average of 13.4 times earnings. Of the 16 analysts tracked by FactSet that cover Pfizer, it halves a Buy, while half it counts a Hold.
Pfizer and BioNTech revealed promising data on their Covid-19 vaccine on July 1, which showed that all 24 patients who received lower doses of the vaccine in a phase 1 study developed neutralizing antibodies at a level approximately two times higher than those found in patients who had recovered from Covid-19 infections. The companies plan to launch a phase 2b / 3 impact study with up to 30,000 patients as soon as this month.
Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected]