In the race for the COVID-19 vaccine, Sanofi inked a $2 billion vaccine deal to get vaccines out faster while AstraZeneca reports positive results from some animal studies. BioNTech shares are sold: is that due to new mRNA competitive entrant? Could such selling be an overreaction, or perhaps rational, with dangerous multinational corporations moving into the mRNA-based vaccine field?
The Sanofi Deal
In this recently inked deal, Sanofi and Translate Bio will leverage an existing collaboration to pursue novel mRNA-based vaccines aimed at broadly addressing current and future infectious diseases. This move positions Sanofi to embrace the same technology used by Moderna as well as German-based BioNTech.
Translate Bio receives in the deal a hefty $425 million upfront payment and common stock equity investment and, overall, is eligible to receive $1.9 billion of potential milestone payments as well as tiered royalties on worldwide sales of developed vaccines. In exchange, Sanofi receives an exclusive worldwide right to develop, manufacture and commercialize infectious disease vaccines using Translate Bio technology. In a nutshell, the deal brings together cutting-edge mRNA technology with the global manufacturing clout, capital, and world class vaccine business of Sanofi. Founded in 2011, Translate Bio has raised over $227 million.
Pirbright Institute Study Shows AstraZeneca Vaccine Impactful Against COVID-19
In parallel, AstraZeneca reports positive results from recent animal testing. Back in April, CEO Pascal Soriot revealed a collaboration involving AstraZeneca, GSK, and the University of Cambridge to develop a new laboratory capable of conducting 30,000 COVID-19 tests per day. In June 2020, AstraZeneca and Emergent BioSolutions inked a $87 million deal to manufacture the Oxford University adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine for the U.S. market. This vaccine recently revealed that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prototype administered to pigs evidenced efficacy in the pigs. The results were revealed by the Pirbright Institute, the UK entity conducting the clinical trial.
In the meantime, the Motley Fool’s Keith Speights reported that as of yesterday BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) stock fell substantially (7.3% by 11:24AM EDT), probably due to the Sanofi and Translate Bio announcement. After all, the Sanofi deal allows the French multinational to compete directly for a COVID-19 vaccine with an mRNA-based investigational product of its own (via the partnership). The deal underscores heightening competition in the mRNA arena; Moderna leads the pack to date. As of this writing (11:45AM ET), BioNTech is down a bit further at $52.12.
Mr. Speights notes it could be an overreaction. After all, BioNTech has put together a global partnership with Pfizer as well as Chinese drug producer Fosun Pharma. Moreover, the company has alliances with Genmab and Roche on other mRNA programs.
Speights is correct that BioNTech has a considerable lead over Translate Bio; the later, along with Sanofi, won’t even initiate studies till Q4 2020 while BioNTech already has commenced a Phase ½ clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine by April—U.S. clinical trials started in May. BioNTech just secured 100 million Euros as well for vaccine manufacturing. A key investor/backer of BioNTech is billionaire pharma entrepreneur Thomas Stüngmann.
Call to Action: Interested in any of these companies? TrialSite News‘ Investor Watch keeps an eye out on many of these races. Send us suggestions.