According to experts, Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic that humanity will have to contend with in the future.

The federal government wants to be better prepared for this - and has therefore concluded precautionary agreements with vaccine manufacturers.

They should ensure that, if the worst comes to the worst, vaccines are available quickly in large quantities.

The companies Biontech, Curevac and Wacker Chemie have just received corresponding stand-by orders.

Thiemo Heeg

Editor in Business.

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Ilka Kopplin

Business correspondent in Munich.

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Biontech published an agreement last Friday, according to which the Mainz-based company will have production capacities for the manufacture of at least 80 million mRNA-based vaccine doses per year - for an initial period of five years.

There is growing evidence that viral pandemics continued to pose a public health challenge for years to come, said board member Sean Marett.

The framework agreement addresses potential threats to public health up to 2027.

On Monday, the Tübingen vaccine developer Curevac and its British partner Glaxo-Smith-Kline (GSK) announced that they had signed a contract with the federal government for the delivery of mRNA vaccines as part of a public tender for pandemic preparedness.

Following a maximum two-year qualification phase, the agreement grants the federal government access to Curevac's production capacity until 2029.

This could rapidly make 80 million doses of mRNA-based vaccines available during the current pandemic or in future outbreaks of infectious diseases.

"By keeping this production capacity available at all times, the risk of potential supply bottlenecks in a pandemic situation should be reduced," it said.

Wacker invests heavily

Curevac started a clinical study of its new vaccine candidate against Corona at the end of March.

After the first candidate CVnCoV withdrew from the approval process due to relatively low efficacy, the biotech company began developing a new vaccine with its partner GSK.

CEO Franz-Werner Haas said that in view of the unpredictable and variant-controlled course of the Covid pandemic, one was "firmly determined to protect public health".

The Munich-based company Wacker Chemie, together with its partner Corden Pharma, is also one of the federal government's chosen companies.

The chemical group listed in the M-Dax and the pharmaceutical supplier have applied together in a consortium of bidders.

Now they have been awarded the contract to provide 80 million vaccine doses annually from 2024 onwards if required.

There is also the option to increase the volume to 100 million cans per year.

As in the case of Curevacs, the federal government pays Wacker an annual stand-by fee for the constant provision of production capacities.

Their amount was not quantified.

Meanwhile, Wacker is investing heavily: “We are expanding the Halle site into a competence center for mRNA production.

We are creating capacities for pandemic preparedness, but also beyond," said Susanne Leonhartsberger, who is responsible for Wacker's biopharma business.

Accordingly, production is to be expanded to a total of four lines.

Wacker has operated a biotech site in Halle since 2014.

More than 80 million euros a year are to be invested in the coming years.

The order fits into the medium-term strategy of strengthening the biotech business.