Pfizer's Covid vaccine set to be first to gain approval
A Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is set to become the first to gain approval.
The RNA vaccine is a new type of immunisation that uses a fragment of the coronavirus' genetic code to replicate the virus inside the body, leading the immune system to attack it.
To be effective it needs to be administered in two separate doses, three weeks apart. Clinical trials have so far found that it protects 90 per cent of people from developing symptoms, having been tested on on 43,500 people in six countries with no safety issues.
If all goes well, this will be the first time an RNA vaccine is approved for use in humans. It is also the fastest ever turnaround time for the development of a vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech hailed the announcement as a "great day for science and humanity".
A report by Bloomberg Intelligence states that the high rates of effectiveness mean it is very likely it will be approved by the FDA, who require vaccinations to be effective a minimum of 50 per cent of the time.
The race to develop an effective vaccine has been highly competitive, with over 170 teams around the globe working to find a safe form of vaccination. Meanwhile governments have been in constant contact with developers to strike deals and secure orders for their countries, given the volume that will be needed versus constraints on manufacturing capacity.
Bloomberg report that Pfizer-BioNTech have agreed a price of $19.50 a dose on an initial order of 100 million doses with the US, which Pfizer has indicated sets a volume-based price benchmark for other regions.
Based on this price assumption the Covid-19 vaccine market could be worth tens of billions of dollars, as it is likely multiple vaccines from different developers will be approved and used.
However some pharma companies will supply theirs at cost, such as AstraZeneca who plan to charge $3-$4 per dose. Pfizer has said that they will only charge the full price in developed countries.
Bachem turns 50 - a timeline
Bachem, a supplier to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. We take a look at the Swiss company's history.
1971 - beginnings
Bachem is founded by entrepreneur Peter Grogg in Liestal, a small town near Basel in Switzerland. Grogg started the firm with just two employees, and with a focus on peptide synthesis - peptides are composed of amino acids that have a variety of functions treating health conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
1977 - 1981 - early growth
Bachem moves its headquarters to the Swiss town of Bubendorf, with eight employees. In 1978 the company produces peptides for use in medicines for the first time. In 1981 production capacity triples and the workforce grows to 150.
1987 - 1996 - worldwide expansion
The company expands into the US with Bachem Bioscience, Inc. in Philadelphia. To strengthen its presence in Europe, Bachem opens sales and marketing centres in Germany in 1988.
Further sales centres open in France in 1993. By 1995 the company employs 190 people. In 1996 it acquires the second largest manufacturer of peptides in the world and forms Bachem California with a site in Torrance.
1998 - 2003 - Bachem goes public
Bachem company goes public and lists shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Further acquisitions include Peninsula Laboratories, Inc, based in California, and Sochinaz SA, a Swiss-based manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients. By 2001, the company has 500 employees and sales reach 141 million CHF.
In 2003 the organisation is given a new legal holding structure to support its continued growth, which remains in place to this day.
2007 - 2013 - acquisitions
Bachem acquires a brand by Merck Biosciences for ready-to-use clinical trial materials and related services.
In 2013, together with GlyTech, Inc. Bachem announces the development of a new amino acid that can help to treat multiple sclerosis, with a world market of more than $4 billion.
In 2015 it acquires the American Peptide Company (APC), which becomes integrated into Bachem Americas.
2016 - 2019 - a global leader
In 2016 the group opens a new building dedicated to R&D projects and small series production in Bubendorf. With a total of 1,022 employees, the workforce exceeds the 1,000 mark for the first time in the company’s history. Sales are over the 200 million mark for the first time at 236.5 million CHF.
Bachem expands into Asia with the establishment of a new company in Tokyo called Bachem Japan K.K.
By 2019 Bachem has a growing oligonucleotide portfolio - these are DNA molecules used in genetic testing, research, and forensics. It is hoped this will become a significant product range in the future.
2020 - COVID-19
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachem secures its supply of active ingredients, and even increases it in critical areas. Sales exceed the 400 million Swiss franc mark for the first time, and 272 new employees are hired.
2021 - a milestone anniversary
Bachem celebrates its 50th anniversary and position as a global leader in the manufacture of peptides. While it remains headquartered in Bubendorf, the company employs 1,500 people at six locations worldwide. In the next five years there are plans to continue expanding.
Commemorating the company's anniversary, Kuno Sommer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "Bachem's exceptional success story from a small laboratory to a global market leader is closely linked to Peter Grogg's values, and has been shaped by innovation, consistent quality and cost awareness, as well as by entrepreneurial vision."