German CureVac’s serum faces delays

Vaccination: Alain Fischer, the government’s Vaccine Mr., answers our questions – 20 minutes

The German laboratory CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine, based on messenger RNA technology, could see its marketing delayed due to the lengthening of the testing phases, according to media and local health authorities. The Ministry of Health of the Land of Baden-Wurttemberg, where the German biotech is based, confirmed to AFP on Friday that it had received information to this effect during a recent meeting with the Federal Minister of Health. In the press, the regional manager clarified that the vaccine was no longer expected before August and faced “complications”.

German biotechnology company, founded in 2000 by messenger RNA pioneer Ingmar Hoerr, CureVac announced in its interim results at the end of May that an analysis “did not reveal any safety issues” with its vaccine candidate. But no efficacy results have yet been published.

Trials hampered by … falling infection rates

To complete its clinical trials, which include around 40,000 volunteers in Europe and Latin America, CureVac needs at least 111 participants to contract the virus. CureVac expected to achieve that goal and seek approval in Europe in late May or early June, but falling infection rates have slowed the procedures. A spokesperson for the lab said the company now hopes to have collected enough data “by the end of June.” In a press release Thursday evening, CureVac also reported “additional delays” related to the consideration of variants of the virus, which it must sequence.

A highly anticipated vaccine

Easier to transport than other RNA vaccines, CureVac serum is eagerly awaited in Europe, where vaccination campaigns are accelerating. The European Commission has signed a contract with the laboratory for the purchase of 405 million doses. The laboratory has joined forces with Swiss pharmaceutical giants Novartis and German Bayer, which will participate in the production phases to come. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is conducting an ongoing review of its vaccine candidate, as the results are published, with a view to being able to quickly rule on its authorization.

Four other vaccines are already authorized in the EU, those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, also based on messenger RNA technology, and those of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, said to be viral vector.

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