German vaccine maker CureVac said Wednesday that interim data from late-stage testing of its coronavirus shot show a comparatively low effectiveness in protecting people against COVID-19.
The results appear to be a significant setback for CureVac’s efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and the company’s stock value tumbled in after-hours trading.
While not all the data from its trial involving 40,000 participants in Latin America and Europe have been assessed yet, the company said interim results show the vaccine has an efficacy of 47 percent against COVID-19 disease of any severity.
This did not meet what the company said were its “prespecified statistical success criteria,” though it didn’t state what those were.
The World Health Organization has said vaccines with an efficacy above 50 percent are worth using, though many of those already approved have a far higher rate.
CureVac said that the study was hampered by the broad range of variants found among the COVID-19 cases reviewed in the trial and that final results may still change.
“While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognize that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging,” its chief executive, Franz-Werner Haas, was quoted as saying.
Haas said CureVac would continue to work on a final analysis and “the overall vaccine efficacy may change.”
The company said it has sent the data to the European Medicines Agency, which is conducting a rolling revue of the vaccine.
“The study is continuing to the final analysis and the totality of the data will be assessed for the most appropriate regulatory pathway,” CureVac said.
Earlier this month German officials indicated that there could be delays in approval for the CureVac shot, which uses mRNA technology similar to that employed in the authorized vaccines made by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.
Haas, the chief executive, said the large number of variants CureVac encountered in its trial — with only a single case of COVID-19 attributable to the original variant — “underlines the importance of developing next-generation vaccines as new virus variants continue to emerge.”
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