German pharmaceutical maker BioNTech, which developed the first widely used coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, swung to a huge profit in the second quarter on record sales, with far more forecast to come.
The Mainz-based company said it made a profit of almost 2.8 billion euros in the three months between April and June of 2021. That’s about $4.1 billion Cdn. In the same period last year, the company was losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
But that was before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and other public health agencies approved the company’s vaccine for emergency use.
Along with its manufacturing partner, Pfizer, the company has since signed deals to sell 2.2 billion doses of its vaccine this year and another 1 billion in 2022.
“We and our partner Pfizer have crossed the one billion mark for COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped worldwide,” CEO Ugur Sahin said in a release. “We are proud to have reached this great milestone after only six months and to have made a difference for people with our proprietary mRNA technology.”
The company says it will use its profits from its COVID-19 vaccine to develop and produce vaccines against other viruses. Human trials on an mRNA-based influenza vaccine are slated to begin this fall, and the company is aiming to have a working prototype of a malaria vaccine by next year. According to the WHO, malaria infects more than 200 million people every year, and kills more than 400,000 people annually.
The mRNA technology that BioNTech uses in its COVID vaccine was originally developed as a way to fight cancerous tumours, before the company turned its attention to a then-unknown respiratory virus coming out of China in late 2019.
Over breakfast, Sahin and his wife Özlem Türeci decided to apply the technology they’d been researching for two decades to the new threat. Since then, the company says it expects to sell 15.9 billion euros worth of the vaccine this year.
Shares in the company have surged in recent weeks, as evidence mounts that the vaccine provides good protection against even the more transmissible variants.
The U.S.-listed version of the company’s shares were worth about $100 US when the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March of 2020. On Friday, they closed at $389.
They gained another 10 per cent on Monday when the company’s financials came out, and when markets opened, the shares were changing hands at around $439 a share.
The funds the company is making from its COVID vaccine will be used to develop those vaccines and others.
The company says it currently has 15 potential vaccines in the works for different cancers. Six of those vaccines have advanced to the stage of being used in human clinical trials.
BioNTech expects results from at least four of them to be released by the end of the year.
“We were able to advance multiple oncology programs across various technology platforms which are now entering later stage testing, providing the potential for introducing a series of product candidates to the market in the coming years,” Sahin said.