Jul 1, 2021
Falling short of great expectations, German biotech company CureVac said its coronavirus vaccine results showed only 48% efficacy against COVID-19. The final results confirm the poor efficacy rate, recording only a slight improvement from the preliminary results. The news sent the company’s stock 46.2% down in the premarket.
A few weeks ago, the preliminary results from second and third phase trials showed only 47% efficacy. The study consisted of 40,000 subjects in 10 countries of Europe and Latin America, but the vaccine did not meet “statistical success criteria.”
CureVac blamed the results on the quickly spreading variants. “While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognize that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging. As we are continuing toward the final analysis with a minimum of 80 additional cases, the overall vaccine efficacy may change,” said Dr Franz-Werner Haas, Chief Executive Officer of CureVac. “In addition, the variant-rich environment underlines the importance of developing next-generation vaccines as new virus variants continue to emerge.”
High Hopes, Shattered
Only a few months ago, the New York Times called the CureVac vaccine the jab that could ‘bring hope to the unvaccinated world’. However, CureVac’s vaccine, known as CVnCoV, failed compared to its rival mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, which had efficacy rates above 90%.
There were high hopes for the CureVac vaccine, as it proved to remain stable at normal refrigerator temperatures. Not needing deep freeze facilities, reportedly made the CureVac vaccine an attractive solution for Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
However, there may yet be hope for the CureVac jab. The European Medicines Agency announced that it would not impose a 50% threshold for COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, they would assess the complete trial data and make decisions accordingly.
“We will need to collect all the final data from this clinical trial, and have a good analysis of the outcome throughout different regions, age groups and according to different variants,” Marco Cavaleri, head of Biological Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy at the EMA, explained.