The development and domestic production of a groundbreaking Covid-19 vaccine by German start-up BioNTech could boost economic growth in Europe's largest economy by up to 0.5 percentage points
this year, an economist has said.
The German economy is seen growing by roughly 4% this year following a pandemic-related plunge by 4.6% last year.
This means BionTech and its breakthrough development of a coronavirus vaccine based on mRNA technology could account for roughly an eighth of overall GDP growth in 2021, based on estimates by Sebastian Dullien, head of think tank the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK).
"I can't think of another example in which a single company had such an impact on German GDP," Mr Dullien told Reuters.
A government official said it was absolutely plausible to assume that the BioNTech effect on overall economic growth would easily reach up to 0.5 percentage points this year.
Mr Dullien said as a macro economist, he normally does not look at individual companies.
"Sometimes, however, there are rare cases in which individual companies have macroeconomic relevance. BioNTech is such a rare example," Mr Dullien said.
His calculations are based on BioNTech's latest earnings, which showed the start-up now expects to accrue €15.9bn in revenue from the vaccine this year, up from an earlier estimate of €12.4bn. That is roughly 0.5% of German GDP, Mr Dullien said.
In 2020, Germany's gross domestic product stood at about €3.3trn.
"Since BioNTech procures relatively few preliminary products from abroad, this is almost entirely domestic added value," Mr Dullien said. "So this has a direct impact on economic growth."
In contrast to Germany's big car companies that produce many vehicles outside the country, BioNTech is producing its vaccine in a factory in Marburg, in western Germany. In addition, it receives licensing fees from its US partner Pfizer.
BioNTech and Pfizer got the world's first approval for a Covid-19 vaccine at the end of 2020.
"The success of BioNTech is impressive," Mr Dullien said. "There is an excellent research landscape in Germany that has potential for the future."
ING Bank economist Carsten Brzeski also said Mr Dullien's calculation was plausible, adding that BioNTech's success story was simply extraordinary.
"There aren't many companies that can go from zero to a hundred in just a year," Mr Brzeski said.
BioNTech has said repeat shots of its Covid-19 vaccine, of which more than a billion doses have now been supplied worldwide, was a better strategy than tailoring the product it developed with Pfizer to new variants.
The German biotech firm said offering a third dose of its established two-shot vaccine remained the best response to concerns over waning immune protection in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant.