On the Home Stretch in the Race Against Covid-19

In the fight against the coronavirus, the world has been watching the Rhine-Main area. At the latest since November 9, 2020 – the day when local firm Biontech announced that tests to date showed the vaccine developed together with its US partner Pfizer was more than 90 percent effective.

© Sarom Yohannes

More good news followed: the vaccine was submitted for emergency approval in the USA and found to have an efficacy rate of 95 percent. It will be manufactured in Marburg, Hessen. Roughly 250 million doses could be produced in the first half of 2021. After that, when full capacity is reached, the site could turn out 60 million doses a month. Biontech CFO Dr Sierk Poetting says the Marburg facility offers optimum manufacturing conditions: “We can move in more or less immediately and start producing the vaccine with the 300 highly qualified staff.”

The world's pharmacy

The road taken by Sanofi’s coronavirus vaccine also runs through Hessen: several hundred million doses are to be manufactured in Frankfurt-Höchst. The process will cover everything from bottling the pharmaceutical formulation through visual inspection down to packaging. This shows that Hessen is living up to its reputation as the “world’s pharmacy.” More than 60,000 people work here in 187 chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector companies, which have aggregate revenues of EUR 27 billion. A PwC survey of people aged between 18 and 65 in Hessen reveals that they see pharmaceuticals as an important sector in all regions of the state. In addition, respondents identified the industry as one of the most innovative in Hessen, immediately behind IT and telecommunications. Dr. Rainer Waldschmidt, CEO of Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH, sums things up as follows: “I am delighted that we in Hessen can make a major contribution to fighting the virus thanks to our innovative ability, our bold approach, and the right amount of optimism.”