‘We don’t need to work with BioNTech’: After a successful COVID vaccine collaboration, Pfizer plans on tackling other diseases with mRNA technology alone

Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters
Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Pfizer will develop new shots using the technology, called mRNA, to target other viruses and pathogens beyond the coronavirus, Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in an interview. He said the company’s scientists and engineers gained a decade’s worth of experience in the past year working on the Covid-19 vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech and is ready to pursue mRNA on its own.

“There is a technology that has proven dramatic impact and dramatic potential,” Mr. Bourla said. “We are the best positioned company right now to take it to the next step because of our size and our expertise.”

Pfizer will increase R&D in the technology, including adding at least 50 employees whose assignments will include mRNA, and it will harness the new mRNA manufacturing network it assembled in the past year to compete.

“We are now ahead and we plan to maintain the gap,” he said of the mRNA vaccine market.

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The two companies will continue to collaborate on Covid-19 shots. But now after completing crucial steps such as designing and conducting clinical trials and securing specialized raw materials for manufacturing, Pfizer is confident it can do mRNA vaccines alone, Mr. Bourla said.

“We like working with BioNTech, but we don’t need to work with BioNTech,” he said. “We have our own expertise developed.”

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