Thursday, March 23, 2023

Bayer signs deal to help CureVac roll out its COVID-19 vaccine

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German biopharmaceutical company CureVac has announced a tie-up with the country’s largest pharmaceutical beast, Bayer, for the development and supply of CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction. Bayer shares jumped more than 2% on the news Thursday morning.

The collaboration and services agreement is expected to help deliver “several hundred million” doses of the vaccine, the companies said. CureVac said in November that it expects to produce up to 300 million doses this year, and up to 600 million doses in 2022.

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This is all a speculative plan at this time, given that CureVac’s CVnCoV vaccine candidate – based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology similar to the coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna – is still in its development phase. large-scale test, the results of which will indicate its effectiveness. Subsequently, regulatory approval would be required before distribution can begin.

Bayer said Fortune Thursday that first results should be available this quarter, with distribution hopefully starting in the second quarter.

Joining forces

“Building on the positive data that we have seen so far with CVnCoV, we now have another strong partner by our side to deliver the vaccine to the people who need it after receiving the required regulatory approvals,” said Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac said in a Thursday declaration.

“We are firmly committed to making our capacities and networks available to help end this pandemic,” said Stefan Oelrich, chief pharmaceutical division at Bayer. He called CureVac a “leader in mRNA technology”.

CureVac, a hitherto little-known outfit, made headlines last March when it was the subject of a tug of war between President Donald Trump and the German government. Trump reportedly offered $ 1 billion to ensure that CureVac’s vaccine became exclusively available in the U.S. A political storm ensued in Germany and the European Commission quickly responded with a $ 99 million line of credit for the company.

Although CureVac denied the report on Trump’s offer, CEO Daniel Menichella resigned days later. CureVac continued its listing on the Nasdaq in August.

Bayer is significantly larger than its new partner, with around 104,000 employees for CureVac’s 500 and more. With the development of the product by CureVac itself, Bayer will help address issues in supply chain, regulatory affairs, clinical operations and more.

Under their agreement, CureVac would have the right to apply for the license to market the vaccine within the EU and other European countries, including the UK, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Bayer maintains options to initiate the commercialization licensing process in certain countries outside of Europe, although there is no agreement yet on which countries could be included, the company said. Fortune.

CureVac has already called on other partners to prepare for production: the German Wacker Chemie, to manufacture the active principle of the vaccine, and the French Fareva to “fill and finish” the vials.

Increase supply

The surge comes as many European countries, including Germany, question whether the vaccine rollout is proceeding quickly enough.

There have been quite a few critical for the European Commission, which has managed the collective markets on behalf of EU members, and it is certainly true that the European approval process is moving more slowly than that of the United States and the United Kingdom The European Medicines Agency ( EMA) and the Commission only gave the green light for the second vaccine, Moderna, on Wednesday.

However, a large part of the problem is also production limits.

BioNTech and Pfizer, whose vaccine was the first to gain EU approval, are putting the finishing touches on a new German plant – in the Hessian university town of Marburg – which is expected to be ready to start in February. German Minister of Health Jens Spahn said Wednesday that the new facility would “massively” increase the availability of vaccines in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also Told Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that she is “open to the idea” of making Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at European manufacturing facilities – but only if it gets EMA approval.

Sputnik V is not among the vaccines for which the Commission has already signed purchase agreements (controversial and secret). CureVac is on the list – the Commission has already secured up to 405 million doses of its potential vaccine.

The Commission is also try to double its existing order for 300 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses. It has an order for 160 million Moderna doses and, pending regulatory approval, has also secured up to 400 million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses, up to 300 million Sanofi-GSK doses (although these do not will not materialize until the end of 2021, if ever), up to 400 million Johnson & johnson doses, and possibly up to 200 million doses of Novavax.

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