BioNTech Recruits Rivals to Boost Covid-19 Vaccine Production

The maker of the West’s first Covid-19 vaccine is building a new manufacturing alliance that could throw Europe and the rest of the world a lifeline amid a painful shortage of shots and a rebound in infections.

BioNTech SE, a German company that joined with Pfizer Inc. to manufacture and distribute its vaccine, has marshaled an alliance of 13 companies, including Novartis AG , Merck KGaA and Sanofi SA, in an effort to meet—and perhaps exceed—an ambitious target of making two billion doses of vaccine this year.

The European Union has been struggling with a shortage of vaccines as manufacturers, including British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca PLC, have fallen behind on their delivery pledges to the bloc.

The shortage has largely been limited to the EU, which was slower than its Western allies in ordering and approving the vaccines, and it has raised tensions between the bloc and the U.K. and the U.S.

This could pose a challenge to BioNTech’s alliance. Its vaccine uses sophisticated new techniques that require scarce ingredients and expertise. This makes for a delicate supply chain that is vulnerable to the type of export controls the EU, the U.K. and the U.S. have imposed in recent months, company officials have warned.

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