CureVac ditches first generation Covid vaccine to focus efforts on variant jab

CureVac has dropped its first version of a Covid-19 vaccine as it shifts its focus to its “second generation” jab.

The German pharmaceutical company’s vaccine candidate was going through a rolling review with the Europeans Medicines Agency (EMA), but has pulled out from the process.

It said in a statement it was withdrawing its current vaccine candidate – CVnCoV – from EMA approval after it estimated that it would not be approved until spring 2022.

At this point its second generation mRNA vaccine candidate, which it is working on with British pharmaceutical company GSK, will have progressed to “late stage clinical development”.

The companies said thy are “aiming to achieve regulatory approval for market readiness of an improved Covid-19 vaccine in 2022”.

CureVac said it was the vaccine agreement with the European Commission that “will cease”, but it was looking at the possibility of “leveraging CVnCoV commitments for the second-generation vaccine candidate”.

Franz-Werner Haas, chief executive of CureVac, said: “The global fight against Covid-19 continues, and we remain committed to making a difference with a safe and efficacious vaccine.

“This goal has not changed, but the requirements to effectively address the virus and emerging variants have changed.

“In the ongoing transition from acute pandemic to endemic, our decision to withdraw CVnCoV from the regulatory approval process and focus our efforts on second-generation mRNA vaccine candidates reflects expected changes in public health needs that our second generation can potentially address.”

The announcement will not affect UK vaccine supply.

In February, the Government announced that it was striking up a partnership with CureVac “to rapidly develop new vaccines in response to new Covid-19 variants if needed”.

Through the agreement, the UK placed an initial order for 50 million doses, but this will only come into play once a vaccine is found to be safe, effective and approved for use by regulators.