Covid-19 roundup: Bayer expands deal with CureVac to produce shots; UK orders more Valneva vaccines
Following the partnerships among Sanofi and Novartis to upscale the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, another Big Pharma is stepping in to help vaccine production.
Bayer has agreed to produce CureVac’s Covid-19 jabs, the companies announced Monday, as supply continues to lag around the world. Though Bayer won’t start producing the vaccine until the end of 2021, the move expands the collaboration between the companies that had allowed for Bayer to assist CureVac in obtaining regulatory clearances and in distribution.
“We will need vaccines beyond the summer,” German health minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference Monday, per Bloomberg. “It’s possible that due to mutations we cannot yet predict today, vaccines will have to be adjusted and changed. The mRNA technology makes it possible to do that relatively quickly.”
This will be the first time Bayer has ever produced a vaccine, the company said. With the expanded supply, the pair expects to provide about 160 million doses in 2022 from one of their factories in Germany.
Tensions have flared among EU countries in recent weeks over a slowdown in vaccine deliveries. Pfizer had said it was cutting shipments while it upgraded a manufacturing plant in Belgium, leading some member states to consider legal action against the company.
And the bloc fought publicly with AstraZeneca over slowdowns last week, culminating in the company publishing its full EU contract before the EMA gave its shot the thumbs-up Friday. The cuts amounted to a 60% reduction from 80 million to 31 million delivered doses by March.
Much like the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, CureVac’s jabs use mRNA technology. They’re much farther behind than those companies, however, having just started a Phase III trial in December. Still, execs have touted a smaller required dose and lower storage temperature as advantages over its mRNA rivals.
Spahn has also said previously that the CureVac vaccine could be authorized as soon as March should the pivotal study return positive results.
UK exercises option for 40 million Valneva vaccines
French vaccine developer Valneva has secured an option from the UK government to supply more doses.
The UK has ordered an additional 40 million doses for 2022 supply, bringing Valneva’s total commitment to the country to 100 million, the company said Monday. British officials retain options for another 90 million shots between 2023 and 2025.
“The further 40 million doses secured through today’s deal significantly bolsters our portfolio and gives us future flexibility should we need to revaccinate any of the UK population,” interim UK vaccine taskforce chair Clive Dix said in a statement.
Should all the options be exercised, the value of the deal would equal €1.4 billion, or about $1.69 billion. On the heels of the news, Valneva shares rose roughly 11% on the French stock market.
Valneva initiated a Phase I/II study of its inactivated, adjuvanted candidate VLA2001 in December, assessing safety and immunogenicity at three dose levels in about 150 adults. Researchers are looking at a two-shot regimen spaced three weeks apart.
The company said Monday the study is fully enrolled and is expected to read out data at some point within the next three months.
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