Pharmaceutical lab Photo: Shutterstock.com

Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Covington & Burling advised on a deal in which Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech have agreed to work together to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

The successful development of a vaccine could make millions of doses available by the end of the year, the companies said.

The collaboration builds on the companies’ existing agreement to develop vaccines to prevent seasonal influenza. The firms aim to get the first vaccine candidates to enter human trials by the end of April, subject to regulatory agreement.

The companies have also agreed to work together to commercialize a successful candidate, with the potential to rapidly scale up capacity to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021.

Pfizer will pay BioNTech $185 million upfront, and has agreed to further milestone payments of up to $563 million, BioNTech said in a statement.

To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.

Clifford Chance advised Pfizer, with intellectual property and life sciences partner Stephen Reese leading on the agreement, partner Markus Stephanblome on corporate, as well as partners Olaf Mertgen and Per Chilstrom on tax and capital markets.

Pfizer was advised in-house, led by Lara J. Payne, assistant general counsel, and Arthur J. Cohn, vice president, assistant general counsel.

BioNTech was advised by Freshfields partners Jochen Dieselhorst and Philipp Lehman.

Covington also advised BioNTech.