CureVac NV, a German biotech company backed by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, announced that its Wuhan pneumonia (novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19) vaccine candidate, CVnCoV, had only 47 percent protection in interim results. This is a major setback, mainly due to the difficulties associated with the new variant of the virus.
The 47 percent efficacy result, while not final, was the lowest reported by any vaccine manufacturer to date, according to the company’s 40,000-person trial, which was conducted in 10 countries and territories in Latin America and Europe, where at least 13 different variants of the virus were in circulation.
The investors behind CureVac include the divorced Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, German softball entrepreneur Dietmar Hopp, British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, and the German company GlaxoSmithKline. (GlaxoSmithKline) and the German government. The company was scheduled to produce up to 300 million doses by 2021 and up to 1 billion doses by 2022.
The CureVac vaccine relies on mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology similar to that used in the successful Pfizer/BNT and Modena vaccines.
However, the CureVac vaccine uses chemically unmodified mRNA that is stable at normal refrigeration temperatures, eliminating the complex refrigeration requirements of other mRNA vaccines and making it easier to transport and store. It is also cheaper to manufacture, which makes it attractive to low- and middle-income countries that have been struggling to obtain much-needed doses. However, the new results may make it difficult for the company to gain approval even in developing countries.