Vaccines play prominent role in fighting coronavirus pandemic. Among the best-known Corona vaccines currently on the market in various countries are those from the manufacturers Astrazeneca, Biontech/Pfizer, Moderna As well as Johnson Johnson.
By contrast, one of the first manufacturers to make a splash with a vaccine last year was the Tubingen-based company Curevac. Subsequently, however, the vaccine was overshadowed by other hopefuls.
Actually, the vaccine should have been much further along by now. But now final study evaluations show that the vaccine has an efficacy of only 48 percent across all age groups and for 15 virus variants.
Here you can read how the vaccine works, why there is criticism, how many cans Germany has ordered and what Hoffenheim patron Dietmar Hopp has to do with the company.
How effective is the Curevac vaccine?
The Curevac vaccine named CnCov is based on the messenger molecule mRNA, like the vaccines from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna. This stimulates the formation of viral proteins in the body, which triggers an immune reaction. Antibodies and T-cells are formed that fight the pathogen in the event of an infection.
The company was forced to admit in a mandatory stock exchange announcement in mid-June that its own vaccine candidate had achieved only 47 percent preliminary efficacy against corona disease of "any severity" in an interim analysis. Thus, he said, he had not met the specified statistical criteria for success. The company confirmed this at the end of June. According to the report, even in the final study evaluation, only 48 percent were Efficacy Achieved "in all age groups across 15 viral variants".
A significant protective effect against a Corona infection had been found to be 53 percent in study participants aged 18 to 60 years. In this age group, the vaccine protected against moderate and severe disease progression with an efficacy of 77 percent and offered 100 percent protection against hospitalization or fatal progression of infection.
The Curevac vaccine candidate has been in the final and therefore approval-relevant 2b/3 study phase since December, i.e. for more than half a year. While numerous competitors have long since launched their vaccines on the market, Curevac is still collecting data on the development of its vaccines. Whether Curevac will be able to deliver at all – and if so, when – remains unclear for the time being.
Curevac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said the company had hoped for stronger results in the interim analysis. The aim is to continue the ongoing Study But still continue to the final analysis. "Final efficacy could still change." SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach wrote on Twitter: "Too bad, the team from Tubingen would have deserved success."
Curevac vaccine: what are the side effects?
Although official results from the studies are not yet available – Professor Peter Kremsner from the University of Tubingen, who is leading the studies on the Curevac vaccine, has, however, already revealed observations to n-tv: "The Safety and tolerability data look very good, although we are still blinded." blinding means that it is unclear which participants received the real vaccination and which only received a placebo.
In the third phase, it had been observed that especially the younger study participants complained after vaccination about the following Symptoms had complained:
- limb pain
- Fever (rare)
Severe side effects such as Sinus vein thrombosis had not been seen in the study.
When can we expect the Curevac vaccine to be available??
The German government had reportedly long scheduled the Curevac vaccine for the second half of the year, at the recent Federal Ministry of Health published list of vaccine delivery schedules, however, the company was already missing. Most recently, the Business Insider platform reported that as recently as late May, internal federal government supply forecasts said Curevac was expected to deliver tens of millions of doses of vaccine by the end of the year.
In view of the massive time delay, the company had recently not only revised its Shareholders put off again and again. Until early June, the company had said it expected its vaccine candidate to be approved in the EU at least in the second quarter, depending on clinical trial data.
But shortly thereafter, it was announced that the trial would be further delayed. Most recently, there had been speculation that the Curevac vaccine Could possibly be approved in the EU in August. These prospects, too, could have come to an end after the new data became known. Investors at times reacted with panic: Curevac's stock price plunged by more than half in after-hours U.S. trading on Wednesday.
Because of the high urgency in the Corona pandemic, the EMA has developed vaccines in the Rolling review Procedure tested. This means that data and results will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, even if testing is not yet completed and no application has been submitted for approval in the EU. The process is faster than traditional testing, but just as thorough, EMA ares.
Where the Curevac vaccine is manufactured?
300 million doses to be produced by year's end, one billion by 2022. First tranches are produced in Tubingen. The largest capacities are contributed by pharmaceutical and chemical companies such as Wacker, with a production site in Amsterdam, or Rentschler (in Laupheim), GSK (in Belgium) and Bayer (in Wuppertal). Also the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is production partner.
In addition Curevac to produce its vaccine in Heidelberg. More than 100 million doses are to come off the production line there, 50 million of them this year. To this end, the Tuebingen-based biotech company entered into a partnership with the Swiss pharmaceutical contract manufacturer Celonic.
Corona vaccine – More about the vaccines:
- What is the current status of the Corona vaccine? This is how many people have been vaccinated against Corona in Germany – Interactive application
- When is your turn? Corona vaccine calculator calculates your vaccination date
- Is the vaccination dangerous? These are possible side effects of Corona vaccination
- Where is the difference? Biontech, Moderna, Astrazeneca: A comparison of vaccines
- Here's how the Corona vaccination works at your doctor's office: Here's what you need to know about the Corona vaccine from your family doctor
- New technology: How does the mRNA vaccine from Biontech and Curavec work??
How will Curevac's vaccine be produced??
The stability of the Curevac vaccine had a high priority in the development. Company spokesman Schuller says the substance remains stable at refrigerator temperatures for up to three months, which would facilitate use in Africa or Asia.
A vaccine printer, two of which are producing the active ingredient on the company's premises as a test, could enable decentralized vaccine production. The idea is to be able to "print" vaccines everywhere and thus "limit a viral outbreak locally," Schuller tells us.
Does Germany support the development of Curevac??
Germany holds shares worth 300 million euros in the Tubingen-based company. Curevac's technology has the potential to develop new vaccines and therapeutic treatments for many people, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology explains.
Curevac raised fresh money last year through an initial public offering in New York and several times through capital increases, and also agreed on a partnership with Leverkusen-based pharmaceutical giant Bayer.
Historically, however, Curevac has had an even closer relationship with SAP co-founder and investor Dietmar Hopp, which still holds a large part of the shares in the company. Hopp made headlines at the start of the Corona crisis in the spring of 2020 when he made a surprise, high-profile announcement that, Curevac Could potentially deliver Corona vaccine as soon as fall 2020. This remained an unfulfilled wish.