CUREVAC has agreed to work with Bayer to accelerate the development and supply of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
CureVac, a German developer which has orders from the EU for 225m doses of its mRNA vaccine, was early to announce it had a candidate for Covid-19 but has trailed behind rival producers in the push to get vaccines tested and authorised for use. CureVac announced in December that it has entered phase 3 clinical trials for its vaccine candidate CVnCoV, while in the same month Pfizer/BioNTech, which also uses mRNA technology, was celebrating authorisation for the widescale use of its vaccine.
Bayer, Germany’s largest pharmaceutical firm, will support the development and supply of CureVac’s vaccine and contribute expertise in areas including clinical operations, regulatory affairs, and supply chain performance.
“We are very happy to join forces with Bayer, whose expertise and infrastructure will help us make our vaccine candidate CVnCoV even more rapidly available to as many people as possible,” said Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac.
The agreement with Bayer follows CureVac’s announcement in November that it plans to form partnerships with contract development and manufacturing organisations (CDMOs) across the EU to hit its target of producing 300m doses in 2021 and up to 600m doses in 2022. It has since signed an agreement with Wacker to produce 100m doses per year of its mRNA drug substance at the CDMO’s biotech site in Amsterdam, and in December, signed an agreement for Fareva to provide fill-and-finish services at Fareva’s Pau and Val-de-Reuil-sites in France.
In July, the European Investment Bank gave CureVac a €75m (US$93m) loan that the firm is using to complete the construction of a production facility for its vaccine candidate at its Tübingen site in Germany. This would help fulfil the EU’s order for 225m doses once the vaccine is proved safe and effective, with an option to purchase another 180m doses.
While CureVac is behind its rival vaccine developers, its candidate does have some advantages. It requires a smaller dose of mRNA vaccine – 12 µg compared to the 30 µg for Pfizer/BioNTech and 100 µg for Moderna. Also, its vaccine is stable for three months at standard refrigerated temperature of 5°C compared to the ultracold -70°C that the Pfizer/BioNTech requires to prevent it spoiling during transportation and storage. This means it could find greater use in countries with irregular power supplies or poor infrastructure (such as road networks).
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