BioNTech to offer vaccine to its own workers

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A medical worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Tirana

BERLIN (Reuters) - BioNTech will offer its coronavirus vaccine to all its employees, it said on Monday, sidestepping Germany's official inoculation programme in what it said was a bid to protect its supply chain from COVID-19 outbreaks.

The German company, which developed the vaccine with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, said in a statement it would also offer the shot to its suppliers and distributors in Austria.

"To maintain the integrity of our supply chain, including the development, production, approval, supply and distribution of the vaccine, BioNTech has decided to offer a voluntary COVID-19 vaccination to its employees in Germany," it said.

The company is under pressure to ramp up production of the shot that many hope will help the world defeat the pandemic.

"The additional small quantities of vaccine used for this purpose are separate and distinct from those committed under the supply agreements entered into with the European Commission and other governments, and will not impact BioNTech's ability to meet its commitments under these supply agreements," it added.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Peter Graff)