BioNTech says vaccine pricing benchmark is for similar volumes

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BioNTech BNTX.O on Tuesday signalled that order size would impact the per-dose price for its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the developed world.

FILE PHOTO: The new logo of German biotech firm BioNTech is seen outside the company's headquarters in Mainz, Germany, September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

“The price for the U.S. for the first 100 million doses was $19.50 per dose,” said BioNTech’s Chief Strategy Officer Ryan Richardson in an analyst call after the release of third-quarter results on Tuesday.

He was referring to a July deal struck by partner Pfizer PFE.N with the U.S. government for the supply of the vaccine.

“You can think about that as a benchmark for how we would price the vaccine to the developed world for similar volumes,” he added.

The vaccine was on Monday shown to be 90% effective, based on preliminary trial results, a major milestone in the war against a virus that has killed more than a million people and battered the world’s economy.

Richardson said at an earlier event on Tuesday that even though the German group had received some public-sector funds, the product price would partly reflect the risks taken by its investors.

The company on Tuesday also said it would use special thermal shipping boxes to transport vials once they are taken out of ultra-low temperature storage.

The vaccine, which belongs to a class known as messenger RNA, will have to be shipped and centrally stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said on Monday.The thermal boxes would preserve the ultra-low temperatures for up to 10 days for ambient temperatures of up to 25 degrees Celsius without opening them and up to 15 days if the boxes are opened and then re-iced, BioNTech said in presentation slides.

As previously announced, the vaccine can be kept for up to five days at fridge temperatures.

During the analyst call on Tuesday, Sahin said participants on placebo in a control group could at some point no longer be denied the vaccine when its efficacy is further confirmed.

But for lack of a placebo group, longer-term insight could still be gleaned afterwards by using general infection statistics among the non-vaccinated population as comparison.

“This might give us indirect evidence ... by comparison of epidemiological data, how this long-term protection could evolve,” he said.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Edward Taylor and Jane Merriman