German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and US-based pharma major Pfizer are increasing manufacturing capacity to produce two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine this year amid a surge in the global demand.
"In order to respond to an increased global demand, we plan to manufacture two billion doses of our Covid-19 vaccine in 2021 by expanding the previously expected output of 1.3 billion doses by more than 50 per cent," BioNTech said in a statement on Monday.
According to the pharmaceutical company, the implementation of three key initiatives is making good progress.
First, the modification of production processes at Pfizer's facility in Puurs, Belgium, has been successfully completed. It added that the original schedule of vaccine dose deliveries to the European Union is now back.
Second, BioNTech's manufacturing site in Marburg has received a manufacturing license and will be able to start production for validation by European Medicines Agency (EMA) in February in line with previously announced plans.
Third, the company's European manufacturing network has continually expanded -- from three partners in December 2020 when it received the first authorisations to 13 currently (including the Marburg facility), it added.
The company is now in discussions with additional qualified partners on potential new agreements.
"Pfizer and BioNTech continue to work toward increased deliveries beginning the week of February 15, ensuring we will supply the full quantity of vaccine doses in the first quarter we contractually committed to and up to an additional 75 million doses to the European Union in the second quarter," the company said.
In December 2020, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said that the deadly virus is going to stay with us for the next 10 years at least.
The total number of global Covid-19 cases has topped 103.3 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 2.23 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.