CureVac drops CDMOs but continues COVID-19 vaccine development

CureVac has terminated contracts with two of its CDMOs – Wacker and Celonic – after demand for potential COVID-19 vaccine diminishes. However, the firm remains positive future clinical trials will go ahead.

The German biotech entered the COVID-19 vaccine race in March 2020 and began creating mRNA COVID-19 candidate, CVnCoV. The firm quickly struck deals with various contract development manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) such as Novartis, Bayer, Rentschler, GSK, Wacker and Celonic to support production of the candidate.

However, just a few months after the firm reported that the candidate did not meet the prespecified success criteria with a vaccine efficacy of 48% against COVID-19, CureVac has ended contracts with Wacker for the production of the mRNA drug substance of CVnCoV and Celonic for the manufacturing and formulation of the drug substance.

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The firm said in a statement the decision to terminate the contracts was because of “the reduced short-term peak demand for vaccines following the first wave of the pandemic vaccination efforts and corresponding changes in the demand of its first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV.”

Both parties have agreed to not disclose any financial details about the termination.

CureVac’s existing contracts with Rentschler and Novartis will not be affected and both firms will continue mRNA production and formulation for the candidate. Reuters also reported its contracts with Bayer and Fareva are also unaffected.

Still headed to the clinic

Despite the setback in contracts, CureVac insists that shifting its capacity does not limit any availability of clinical trial material and anticipates the candidate will still enter the clinical in the fourth quarter of 2021.

“The development from a very high, short-term pandemic demand to broader availability of vaccines has led us to re-evaluate our immediate manufacturing capacity requirements in order to align the capacity with actual commercial and clinical capacity needs for CVnCoV,” said Malte Greune, COO of CureVac.

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