BioNTech expects Omicron-adapted vaccine deliveries as soon as October

Illustration shows vials labelled "VACCINE Coronavirus COVID-19" and a syringe in front of a displayed Biontech logo

BERLIN (Reuters) -BioNTech expects to begin deliveries of two Omicron-adapted vaccines as soon as October, which will help spur demand in the fourth quarter, the German biotech firm said on Monday as it reaffirmed its vaccine-revenue forecast for the year.

Demand for the vaccine, 3.6 billion doses of which have been shipped globally, is waning as most people in the Western world have received three or four shots already.

However, booster campaigns using upgraded shots specifically targeting the Omicron variant are expected to increase demand in autumn. Pending regulatory approval, BioNTech said, both of its adapted vaccines would be available in time for the campaigns.

Second-quarter revenue and net profit both dropped by around 40% from a year earlier, to 3.2 billion euros ($3.26 billion) and 1.672 billion euros, respectively.

The company reaffirmed its 2022 vaccine revenue guidance of 13 to 17 billion euros, down from 19 billion last year. Partner Pfizer at the end of last month forecast $32 billion in full-year COVID-19 vaccine sales.

"With our strong performance year to date, we believe to be well on track to achieve our previous financial guidance for the ongoing financial year," said Jens Holstein, chief financial officer of BioNTech.

The company acknowledged some uncertainty about what a severe shortage of natural gas, which it uses for the commercial production of its COVID-19 vaccine, would mean for operations but said it did not expect to be affected by the current shortage and is putting measures in place to mitigate risks.

BioNTech and Pfizer submitted one of the adapted vaccines, which targets the BA.1 subvariant, to the EU drugs regulator EMA last month, with delivery pending approval.

The other, targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants as recommended by the U.S. drug regulator, will begin clinical trials this month, with initial doses expected to be shipped also from as early as October.

($1 = 0.9817 euros)

(Reporting by Patricia Weiss and Miranda Murray, editing by Rachel More, Bernadette Baum and Louise Heavens)