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CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Waivers for vaccine production "not a solution" - BioNTech

(Corrects expected timing of Chinese approval to July)

BERLIN, April 28 (Reuters) - The granting of intellectual property waivers is not the right way to increase output of COVID-19 vaccines, the founder of German vaccine maker BioNTech said on Wednesday, advocating instead the award of production licences.

Such waivers are among the options being considered by the Biden administration for maximising the production and supply of vaccines, though no decision has been made, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.

“This is not a solution,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said.

BioNTech, which makes and markets its messenger RNA-based shot in partnership with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, considers close cooperation with selected production partners to be the right approach because its vaccine is hard to make.

“We are considering ways to issue special licences to competent producers,” Sahin told an online briefing hosted by the German foreign correspondents’ association.

This would ensure that the quality of vaccines delivered to different regions of the world is consistent, Sahin said, adding that production by licensees could make a contribution towards the end of this year at the earliest.

The BioNTech/Pfizer shot has been widely administered in countries including Israel, the United States and Britain, and is also the lead vaccine in the European Union’s inoculation campaign.

Sahin said it was important that shots produced in the EU could be exported to other parts of the world. The region could expect to achieve herd immunity by late summer, but it would be of little use if Europe were safe but the virus continued to rampage elsewhere, he added.

BioNTech expects Chinese health authorities to approve its vaccine “by July at the latest”, Sahin told the briefing, adding it should be possible to start distributing it there that month.

“I am optimistic that we can help the people of China,” said Sahin, describing its local partner, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd, as “a great company”.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine Editing by Madeline Chambers and Gareth Jones

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