BioNTech to set up regional HQ and vaccine plant in Singapore
A manufacturing hub here will mean a certain percentage of vaccines will go to Singapore
BioNTech SE, the vaccine-maker that partnered Pfizer to produce the widely used Covid-19 shot, will be designating Singapore as its regional headquarters for South-east Asia.
It also plans to set up a messenger RNA (mRNA) manufacturing facility here, which can be used to produce the vaccine.
BioNTech aims to open its Singapore office and start the construction of the manufacturing facility this year, subject to planning approval.
The site is expected to be operational in 2023 and will create at least 80 jobs, the German company said yesterday.
It added that the expansion plan is supported by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB).
BioNTech chief executive and co-founder Ugur Sahin told reporters in a virtual press conference yesterday that establishing a manufacturing hub in Singapore will mean that "a certain percentage (of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured) will go to Singapore".
He also said: "But we have to be clear that starting a manufacturing building in Singapore will not help us in the next 12 months with regard to the global supply (of the vaccine).
"The global supply can be addressed only by increasing the existing production capacities. We did that and they will continue to do that in the next 12 months."
The plan is to deliver up to three billion doses this year together with Pfizer - more than 50 per cent higher than initially announced. More than 40 per cent will be supplied to low- and middle- income countries, Dr Sahin added.
Demand has outstripped supply in almost every country.
Across the world, more than one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered.
Dr Sahin also said BioNTech is in discussions on whether to acquire an existing building or build new infrastructure to house the new manufacturing facility.
In response to questions on the value of the investment in Singapore, he said it is "in the range of hundreds of millions of US dollars".
He added: "We're looking at this as a long-term investment in biotech in Singapore... It extends beyond Covid-19.
"Our hope here is that we can establish both a regional and even potentially global supply for a range of different vaccines and therapies based in Singapore."
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who also participated in the Web conference, said the venture will be a boost to the biopharmaceutical sector here.
The new facility will use cutting-edge manufacturing and digital infrastructure, and will be equipped to produce a range of novel mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for infectious diseases and cancer, said BioNTech.
EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin said the investment will enable Singapore to "develop capabilities in an important new therapeutic modality".
"In particular, BioNTech's mRNA manufacturing facility will contribute significantly to the region's ability to address future pandemic threats."