BioNTech SE raised its forecast for this year’s Covid-19 vaccine sales to as much as 17 billion euros (US$19.7 billion or $26.5 billion), lifting the estimate once more as the pandemic drags on and countries order more shots. 

BioNTech and partner Pfizer Inc. have signed contracts to deliver some 2.5 billion doses of the vaccine this year, and expect to manufacture as many as 3 billion doses by year end, the Mainz, Germany-based company said on Tuesday, Nov 9.

The windfall from the vaccine -- the best-selling pharmaceutical product of all time in a given year -- has equipped BioNTech with the funds to push the rest of its experimental pipeline forward. It’s also raised the pressure on the German biotech to show that its growth can be sustained even as its Covid sales wane in coming years. 

BioNTech shares surged 4.9% in US trading before exchanges opened. They have dropped almost 50% from their high on Aug. 9 as Pfizer and US pharma giant Merck & Co. reported breakthroughs on Covid pills and rival vaccine maker Moderna Inc. warned that it wouldn’t hit its delivery targets for this year.

The coronavirus shot isn’t just a powerful driver of growth for BioNTech: it’s playing a similar role at partner Pfizer’s, despite the company’s larger size. The US drugmaker last week projected that the vaccine would bring in US$36 billion in sales in this year, up US$2.5 billion from an earlier forecast. 

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BioNTech meantime is working on testing its experimental cancer medicines on patients with a view to bringing more products to market. The company has four programs in mid-stage clinical trials for oncology treatments, including one for high-risk colorectal cancer patients, CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement. It will report positive clinical data from six oncology programs at an upcoming conference, showing “favourable safety profiles and robust immune responses,” he said. 

The biotech firm had previously predicted 15.9 billion euros in revenue this year from deliveries of 2.2 billion doses of its only marketed product. Production of the shots could rise by a third to reach 4 billion doses next year, it said. 

Photo: Bloomberg