CureVac yesterday lost about 40% in the trading session in New York after Wednesday night (Spanish time) announced that its mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine against Covid had given only 47% efficiency in its preliminary studies on 40,000 people in Europe and Latin America. The collapse of the German company means losing everything gained since November, when its courage was spurred by the good results of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna. Close to 6,000 million euros were left in the session.
The news is disastrous for the company and, as always, when a medical innovation fails, something to regret. But not so much for the EU or for Spain, since it will hardly affect their vaccination plans neither in 2021 nor in 2022. The mRNA version of the German biotech arrived with a long delay compared to its rivals. An authorization (if it arrives) is not foreseen until the third trimester, when a large part of the European population must already be vaccinated. 70% of the adult population should be immunized by mid-August, an achievement that today seems possible even without new options, such as CureVac and Novavax.
In the end, the consortium Pfizer/BioNTech is being the pillar on which the success of the European vaccination plan is based. Spain has received until yesterday 25.2 million doses of this option called Comirnaty, 67% of all received, a percentage that rises to 72% among those administered to citizens.
The German company was a priori one that Brussels trusted the most to immunize the population, with a contract of up to 400 million doses. But in reality, it is not only late, but now adds those unpromising results. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) He assured yesterday that he will have to evaluate the definitive data, but he does not rule out his authorization even without reaching 50% efficiency. The company explains that the obstacles encountered by the product have been the new variants of the virus and a lower dose than that of its competitors. But changing the dose would mean starting over, as has already happened to Sanofi.
In a conventional pharmaceutical product, achieving less than 50% effectiveness and, above all, much less than its already approved competitors would mean a failure and, obviously, a refusal of authorization because if there are better solutions it would be even unethical to offer a citizen a product much worse than the one that is already distributed. But the EMA will have to assess it for the particular case of the pandemic.
Nor is it good news for Bayer, which had partnered with Curevac to manufacture and distribute this version. The chemical-pharmaceutical group can stay this way without entering the race.
More doubts even the vaccine giant must fear GSK, which partnered with CureVac to develop a second generation of mRNA vaccines. Not only was the British drugmaker left off the hook without its own vaccine against the biggest health crisis in a century, but now it seems to have hit a losing horse.
Likewise, the bet of german government in this biotec it has not worked. The German Government entered as a shareholder last year, injecting 300 million, in competition with the United States, when all countries were looking for companies that could respond to an unprecedented pandemic since the Spanish flu in the early nineteenth century. It was speculated that precisely Berín’s strong ascendancy over the EU triggered Brussels’s grand contract with CureVac, now in doubt. The uncertainty is if low efficacy is confirmed and if the EMA approves it, the Twenty-seven have already guaranteed themselves more vaccines than over with a mega-contract with Pfizer / BioNTech by 2022.