The German biotech CureVac crashed this morning in the markets after hours after reporting the low efficacy of its vaccine against Covid-19. The firm, which uses the same messenger RNA mechanism as the already working Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, noted that its compound has only achieved 47% efficacy.
The news, although it comes when the great world economies are already noticing the effect of the high vaccination rates, it represents a setback in the plans for mass vaccination of the world population. It is also a setback in light of the extremely rare cardiovascular risks associated with the Johnson & Johnson or Astrazeneca vaccines. The EU, in fact, had agreed to purchase a maximum of 405 million doses of Curevac.
The study analyzed 134 Covid cases out of 40,000 volunteers, the German company said in a statement. CureVac did not detail how many of those who received the vaccine became ill or how many of those who received a placebo. However, the results suggest that the vaccine is less effective for older people, said Chief Technology Officer Mariola Fotin-Mleczek.
Although efficacy is well below the goal set by other messenger RNA vaccines (such as Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax, this one is still in the approval process), CureVac will complete the trials and plans to obtain approval from the authorities, said the executive director. , Franz-Werner Haas. “As we progress through the analyzes, up to a minimum of 80 additional cases, the efficacy of the vaccine may vary.”
“There is a great need for vaccines and I think we can still contribute,” he added. The company argues that the vaccine could be of great help to developing countries, since it does not require the deep freezing that other versions need. Investors have not been so complacent: in markets outside the US for the hour, stocks have lost half their value, trading certificates of deposit (ADRs) at $ 46.81.
The trial, carried out in Latin America and Europe, has been clouded by the spread of virus variants, 13 specifically according to company information. Of the 124 genetically sequenced cases, only one corresponds to the original Wuhan variant; the rest comes from the later and more contagious variants. Experts tell Reuters that data on hospitalizations and deaths must be calibrated to measure the vaccine’s capacity. The US FDA requires vaccines to be 50% effective, and the WHO recommends 70%.
The company is owned by the German government, and has reached agreements with several manufacturers for the production of its vaccine, such as Bayer or Novartis. In addition, it is developing a second-generation vaccine in partnership with GSK, with the goal of achieving an antidote that is several times more effective by 2022.