CureVac Shelves Covid-19 Vaccine, Focuses on Next-Generation Shot

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Vaccine developers focus on variants, boosters as initial market looks closer to new entrants

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Still, the potential need for booster shots over the long term means there could be a market for laggards and late entrants. If the next generation of shots provide any sort of improvement over the current crop of vaccines, such as stronger efficacy against major variants, greater convenience, fewer side effects or easier storage and transport requirements.

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CureVac said on Tuesday that its shot – once considered a promising Covid-19 vaccine candidate – would arrive too late for a viable market. Earlier this year, it reported disappointing efficacy results. The biotech company is now planning to focus its attention on the variant or a new candidate for the purpose of boosting.

“We are not giving up on a COVID vaccine,” said CureVac chief executive Franz-Werner Haas. “We’re giving up the first product for the second.”

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said last month it would drop one of its own Covid-19 vaccine efforts, adding that, it also felt the market potential had passed the company.

The focus on second-generation COVID-19 vaccines underscores the extraordinary speed at which shots for the disease, which did not exist less than two years ago, have been developed and mass-produced.

As the pandemic unfolded in the early months of 2020, governments around the world poured billions of dollars into dozens of potential COVID-19 vaccines, unsure which ones would turn out.

Around the end of that year, the first vaccines to produce clinical trial results – developed by the Pfizer-BioNTech collaboration and Moderna – did so in spectacular fashion within days of a second, with efficacy readings of over 90%. did. AstraZeneca’s shot proved less effective in those early tests, but the company’s promise to sell it for a price gave it momentum in markets around the world.

Another Western-made vaccine from Johnson & Johnsonhandjob

The frontrunners were outnumbered but struggled to gain traction, due to a mix of manufacturing issues and concerns over the rare blood clots associated with the vaccine. That concern has also fueled demand for the AstraZeneca shot in some countries. Elsewhere, Gaithersburg, MD-based Novavax is working to get its vaccine approved in the US and EU, but those efforts have been delayed by manufacturing issues.

According to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, manufacturers around the world are on track to produce a total of 12 billion doses by the end of the year and 24 billion by June of next year. Most of them are expected to come from Pfizer-BioNtech, AstraZeneca and China’s Sinofarm and Sinovac. The World Health Organization has said this is more than double the 11 billion doses needed to vaccinate 70% of the global population with a two-dose regimen, although it is not yet clear whether the shots are eliminated in those countries. Will be those who need them the most.

CureVac had hoped that its vaccine would find a place in the global market, despite being proven to be far less effective than others in trials. But the European Medicines Agency recently told the company it would not fast-track the process, with the earliest decision being made in the second quarter of 2022, the company said Tuesday.

“At the time, some parts of the world without access to vaccines would probably be covered by others,” CureVac’s chief development officer Klaus Edwardsson said in an interview. “It’s the right way not to waste our resources trying to secure an approval that leads to many patients or individuals not actually being vaccinated.”

After Sanofi’s decision to drop one of its candidates last month, CureVac is the latest backlash to cut its losses. Both those companies and others are now looking for more specialized opportunities as the world grapples with how to live with the virus in the long run.

The German company is working on new versions of its vaccine in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline plc and expects to be more effective. Sanofi is also continuing development in collaboration with Glaxo on another vaccine, which is expected to find a place as a booster shot.

“There is no need for another vaccine against the Wuhan strain,” said Dr. Edwardsson.

Even if CureVac is able to develop a more effective vaccine for the second time, it is likely to enter an even more crowded field than it is today: 144 vaccine candidates are currently in various stages of clinical trials, McGill said. According to the University’s Kovid-19 Vaccine Tracker.

CureVac was once considered a frontrunner in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, but its research was beset with delays and misfortunes, including from its founder Ingmar Hoor, who suffered a severe stroke at the start of the pandemic.

Its shot, called CVnCoV, is based on similar technology developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which uses a piece of genetic code to induce an immune response, instructing cells to make the virus’s spike protein. It uses what is known as messenger RNA or mRNA.

While Pfizer and Moderna modify their mRNA to improve stability and reduce unpleasant reactions to the shot, CureVac stuck with the unmodified mRNA. This meant that CureVac had to keep its dosage low to reduce side effects, as well as reduce the shot’s efficacy, which was less than 50% in its major clinical trial.

CureVac is now examining various changes to its original approach, including modifications of the type made by Pfizer and Moderna, in hopes of developing a more potent vaccine, Dr. Edwardsson said. “We have to be honest and take what the science is telling us,” he said. “The program of the second generation will be a package of various modifications.”

Denise Roland at [email protected]

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