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Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced that it is collaborating with German company BioNTech to develop a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech to develop COVID-19 vaccine

The companies confirmed the joint efforts on Tuesday by signing a letter of intent that will see them working on an mRNA-based vaccine that will help prevent people from being infected with COVID-19. The agreement will see the companies distribute the vaccine outside china, but this is subject to agreeing on financial terms with possible manufacturing and commercialization expected to commence soon. BioNTech is also working with other novel immunotherapy treatments. This move comes at the back of President Donald Trump tried to lure a German lab to develop a coronavirus vaccine solely for the US.

BioNTech CEO and Co-founder Ugur Sahin stated that the COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic that requires global efforts. As a result, they have chosen to join forces with Pfizer to accelerate the development of a vaccine that the world needs so much. The companies will be developing the drug at their research and development sites in the US and German. Already the companies are partnering in the development of mRNA-based vaccines for influenza. 

Companies could start clinical tests of mRNA-based COVID-19 by April

Typically a vaccine will take between 12 months and 18 months of development before human trials, and therefore this collaboration is not going to be a short term solution. However, the partnership brings together the most established and largest players in the pharmaceutical biotech sector.

The mRNA based therapies do not use virus samples like the typical vaccines that use them in the weakened or dead form to jump-start natural body defenses. Instead, they depend on the RNA to kick-start protein production same as the virus triggering the body to develop antibodies that can fight the actual target.

Since the companies are already working on mRNA-based influenza, they are not starting from scratch when talking of the mRNA vaccines. Their collaboration could result in a clinical test that is likely to commence as early as April.