Interim verdict on clinical trials of the CureVac vaccine did not please

The German biopharmaceutical company’s CureVac mRNA vaccine was only 47% effective, disappointing.

This is one of the lowest rates among the drugs existing today. The Phase 2b / 3 HERALD trial is ongoing with 40,000 volunteers from 10 countries in Europe and South America. In 2-3 weeks, as reported by the New York Times and Reuters, citing APE-MPE, the final research result will be presented, indicating the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Franz-Werner Haas, CEO, hopes for the best: “We are fast approaching the final announcement. We are still planning to apply for approval. ” However, Jacob Kierkegaard, a vaccine specialist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, does not share his optimism and calls the results of the clinical trials “disastrous.”

Independent experts predict that the future of the vaccine will be challenging. Even if at the end of the tests the effectiveness of CureVac will be slightly higher, it will still be very inferior to other drugs. Dr. Natalie Dean, a biostatist at the University of Florida, is confident: “Its performance will not change dramatically.” As you know, the effectiveness of other mRNA vaccines Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech is approximately 95%.

The preliminary results of the CureVac clinical trials were announced after receiving data on 135 Covid-19 patients. Independent experts compared the number of vaccinated and placebo-treated patients, finding only 47% efficacy. At the same time, both the WHO and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have set a 50% minimum efficacy limit for coronavirus vaccines in the midst of a pandemic, while the desired level is at least 70%.

The results were not only disappointing, but also surprised scientists – CureVac showed encouraging results in the first trials in humans and experiments on animals. Could new strains be the cause? Dr. Haas, head of the German company, attributed the low rate to the high number of new coronavirus mutations in countries where the vaccine was tested. He cited figures: out of 124 cases of Covid-19 in clinical trials tested genetically, only one was associated with the original “Chinese” strain. One in five, or 21% of the analyzed samples, came from a new, highly infectious, mutation “lambda” found in Peru.

The head of the company says this should be a “danger wake-up call” for the threat posed by the new options in terms of overall vaccine effectiveness: “This is definitely the new reality of Covid.” Haas also claims preliminary results show that the CureVac vaccine is less protective of 60+ people than younger people. However, the effectiveness of Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna in the fight against new strains has decreased only slightly.

On the background of preliminary results of the research, the shares of the Timbingen-based company fell on the stock market by almost 51%. The company planned to release up to 300 million vaccines this year and one billion in 2022. The news also disappointed those who hoped that CureVac could supply quality vaccines to low-income countries, as it has not too strict storage conditions (several months in the refrigerator) and an affordable cost.

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