(Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc <PFE.N> has signed a deal with Germany’s BioNTech SE <22UAy.F> to co-develop a potential vaccine for the coronavirus using BioNTech’s mRNA-based drug development platform, the companies said on Tuesday.
The drugmakers will start the collaboration immediately and have signed a letter of intent for the vaccine’s distribution outside China, they said in a joint statement.
The companies said they will finalize financial terms, and details regarding development, manufacturing and potential commercialization of the vaccine over the next few weeks.
Reuters reported on Sunday that the German government was trying to stop the U.S. administration from persuading CureVac, another German drugmaker working on an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus, to move its research to the United States.
Pfizer and BioNTech will use research and development sites from both companies, including in the United States and Germany, the companies said.
BioNTech on Monday struck a collaboration deal with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical <600196.SS> over its rights in China to its experimental coronavirus vaccine, aiming to start testing on humans from late April.
The race is on to develop an immunization, which is seen as by far the most effective tool to halt the global spread of the pathogen.
Rival Moderna Inc <MRNA.O>, which is working with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, on Monday announced that it dosed the first patient with its experimental coronavirus vaccine in an early-stage trial.
Pfizer already collaborates with BioNTech to develop mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.
The coronavirus outbreak has so far infected nearly 179,000 people globally and killed more than 7,000. Several countries have imposed bans on mass gatherings such as sporting, cultural and religious events to combat the disease.
(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Michael; Erman in New York; Editing by Aditya Soni)