CureVac Cancels two Vaccine Manufacture Deals

15.09.2021 - German biotech CureVac has canceled manufacturing contracts with two prospective partners for its Covid-19 vaccine CVnCoV while retaining others. The company said on Sept. 14 it would end the arrangements with Germany’s Wacker Chemie and Switzerland’s Celonic Group, but leave the deals with Rentschler Biopharma and Novartis intact.

Contracts with Germany’s Bayer and Fareva of France also are not affected by the changes, the company told the Reuters news agency.

The Tübingen-based biotech said its decisions were in response to the reduced short-term peak demand for vaccines following the first wave of the pandemic vaccination efforts and corresponding changes in the demand for CVnCoV, currently under regulatory review with the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Malte Greune, chief operating officer, said the continuous increase in mRNA manufacturing capacity together with the progress of large-scale vaccination efforts had strongly changed the demand for the first-generation candidate.

Wacker’s contract was for manufacturing the mRNA drug substance of CVnCoV and Celonic’s for the manufacturing and formulation of the mRNA drug substance. CureVac said it would not disclose the financial terms of the contract terminations.

In early July, CureVac published definitive results from a 40,000-subject international Phase 2b/3 trial with CVnCoV that it said confirmed that the vaccine candidate was only about 48% effective in preventing infection of any severity across the “unprecedented” 15 strains of the virus it said it encountered during the tests with participants in Latin America and Europe.

While the company has not given any indication that it will drop its first-generation candidate, it has made no secret of the fact that it expects more from potential second generation candidates, including those it is working on with GlaxoSmithKline. The biotech said these candidates are based on new mRNA backbones and include potential variants in multivalent vaccine formats as well as combination vaccines for potential protection against multiple infectious diseases in single injection.

CureVac and GSK said at the time they expected to progress a second-generation vaccine candidate into clinical testing in the third quarter of this year, with the goal of launching a product in 2022, subject to regulatory approval.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist