Pfizer and BioNTech announced in March – when the pandemic was still in its infancy – that they were pooling their resources to accelerate their vaccine development program called Project Lightspeed. It was a logical step, since the two companies had already been working together on the research and development of mRNA flu vaccines since 2018.
Lightspeed turned out to be an appropriate name. BioNTech was able to bring its first vaccine candidates to clinical development within less than three months. “Safety, speed and flexibility are of the utmost importance in reacting to the current pandemic,” the company said in a statement.
The two companies began manufacturing tens of millions of doses at the end of 2020 and expect to produce more than 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. In part, this is thanks to the financial support of the German government, which in September invested EUR 375 million into BioNTech from its special coronavirus research fund.
For Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of Worldwide Research, Development & Medical, the cooperation between the two companies has provided an ideal platform for the development of the vaccine. “We’re happy that the successful relationship between Pfizer and BioNTech made it possible for both companies to mobilize our resources in the face of this global challenge,” he said.