Small biotech says its Covid-19 vaccine spurs more antibodies than AstraZeneca’s. Will supply deals come now?
In a first, a small runner-up vaccine developer says its own Covid-19 jab has induced “superior neutralizing antibody titer levels” over AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 when pitted head-to-head in a Phase III trial.
That and non-inferiority in seroconversion rate were the co-primary endpoints of the trial, which recruited 4,012 adult volunteers across the UK.
But on the exploratory endpoint of Covid-19 case counts, Valneva notes that both treatment groups saw a similar number of infections.
“The complete absence of any severe COVID-19 cases may suggest that both vaccines used in the study prevented severe COVID-19 caused by the circulating variant(s) (predominantly Delta),” reads a release.
Instead, the company touts that its candidate, VLA2001, has a “significantly more favorable” tolerability profile. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which was developed in partnership with Oxford, consists of a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector delivering a gene for a coronavirus spike protein.
Valneva, a French biotech based out of Saint-Herblain, has been traveling outside of the pack taking the inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine approach. Finding buyers for the shots, though, has proven a challenge. Negotiations with the European Commission haven’t landed them anywhere; and while the UK had struck a $1.65 billion deal to stock up on the vaccine earlier, the government reportedly pulled out last month.
Adam Finn, professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol and the chief investigator of the trial, called the results “impressive and extremely encouraging.”
“This is a much more traditional approach to vaccine manufacture than the vaccines so far deployed in the UK, Europe and North America and these results suggest this vaccine candidate is on track to play an important role in overcoming the pandemic,” he said.
Valneva CEO Thomas Lingelbach added that his team will now be pursuing licensure for this “alternative vaccine solution for people who have not yet been vaccinated.”