CureVac drops COVID-19 vaccine candidate, turns to next-generation shot By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A volunteer receives a dose of CureVac vaccine or a placebo during a study by the German biotech firm CureVac as part of a testing for a new vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Yves H

BERLIN (Reuters) -CureVac will withdraw its first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate and focus on collaborating with GSK to develop second-generation mRNA vaccine technology instead, the Germany-based biotechnology company said on Tuesday.

The company’s shares plunged almost 14% in afternoon trading, hitting their lowest since listing last August.

CureVac said it would abandon its application for regulatory approval from the European Medicines Agency for its first-generation vaccine candidate CVnCoV after late-stage trials delivered disappointing results in June with 47% efficacy.

There would be a potential overlap with approval timelines for a second-generation candidate.

The earliest potential approval of CVnCoV would have come in the second quarter of 2022 when candidates from the second-generation vaccine program were expected to progress to late-stage clinical development by that time, CureVac said.

As a result, the advance purchase agreement the German firm signed to sell shots to the European Union will end, it said.

It said it expected to start human trials for its second-generation shot in coming months, aiming for regulatory approval in 2022. Results from early-stage animal trials have shown the strong potential of the shot compared with the original, it said.

The German firm cancelled contract manufacturing deals last month for CVnCoV with two prospective partners.

The shot is the latest casualty in the drug industry’s race to develop a vaccine against the virus, which has killed more than 5 million people and infected more than 238 million.

Sanofi (NASDAQ:) also dropped plans for its own mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine last month because of the dominance achieved by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna (NASDAQ:) in using the technology.

Instead, it would pursue the technology, acquired as part of its takeover of Translate Bio (NASDAQ:), in potential vaccines against influenza and other diseases.

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