Biopharmaceutical New Technologies or BioNTech has chosen Singapore to expand its manufacturing roots in Southeast Asia.
The Nasdaq-listed immunotherapy firm on May 10 said it will set up in the city-state its regional headquarters and a fully integrated mRNA manufacturing facility that will produce vaccines against Covid-19 and other therapeutics for infectious diseases and cancer.
“Having multiple nodes in our production network is an important strategic step in building out our global footprint and capabilities. With this planned mRNA production facility, we will increase our overall network capacity and expand our ability to manufacture and deliver our mRNA vaccines and therapies to people around the world,” said BioNTech chief Dr. Ugur Sahin.
Sahin, who also co-founded the German biotech company, underscores Singapore’s “excellent business climate, growing biotechnology industry and rich talent base.”
“The investment will enable Singapore to develop capabilities in an important new therapeutic modality as part of the strategy to grow our biopharmaceutical industry,” said Dr. Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board (DEB).
Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing, in a separate media briefing, said BioNTech’s investment is a “testament to the competitive advantages that Singapore can provide to biopharmaceutical majors,” enabling them to mobilise capital, aggregate talent and protect their intellectual property.
“Singapore has a track record of making sure that we will continue to allow our investors to fulfill their commercial obligations even in the worst of times, such as in crises, so that our exports can continue to reach different parts of the world and to service different markets,” Chan said.
The manufacturing facility will also “contribute significantly to the region’s ability to address future pandemic threats,” the DEB claimed.
As of early May, Singapore administered 3.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, fully inoculating 1.3 million citizens or 22.8% of its population, according to Our World in Data.
The German vaccine maker said its upcoming facility in Southeast Asia will supply the region with its growing pipeline of mRNA-based products, as well as arm the region with the capability to swiftly produce vaccines to address pandemic threats.
With cutting-edge manufacturing and digital infrastructure, the facility will be “highly” automated and capable of producing end-to-end mRNA across drug substance, drug product and fill-and-finish.
It will have an estimated yearly capacity of “several hundred” million doses of mRNA-based vaccines depending on its type.
mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make proteins, or a piece of it, that triggers an immune response inside a person’s body which in turn, create antibodies to protect it from actual viruses.
BioNTech plans to set up its office and start the construction of the manufacturing site this year, subject to planning approval. Employing up to 80 people in Singapore, the company expects the facility to become operational as early as 2023.
The mRNA vaccine co-developed by BioNTech and Pfizer was the first to be listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization on December 11. Based on their latest study, their vaccine showed 95.3% efficacy against severe Covid-19 as defined by the US Food and Drug Administration. Just this month, the US expanded the vaccine’s emergency use for individuals aged 12-15.
Besides Covid-19 vaccines, BioNTech has a broad portfolio of oncology product candidates, including individualized and off-the-shelf mRNA-based therapies, chimeric antigen receptor T cells, bi-specific checkpoint immuno-modulators, targeted cancer antibodies and small molecules.
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