CureVac’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine triggered an immune response in humans, the German biotech firm said on Monday, putting it on track to start mass testing this year as the race to end the pandemic heats up.
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“We are very encouraged by the interim Phase I data,” Chief Executive Officer Franz-Werner Haas said in a statement.
The biotech firm is using the so-called messenger RNA (mRNA) approach, the same as Moderna as well as BioNTech and its partner Pfizer, although they started mass testing on humans in late July.
CureVac said its potential vaccine, known as CVnCoV, was generally well tolerated and trial results strongly supported the company’s plans to launch the final stage of testing involving about 30,000 participants before the end of the year.
CureVac - backed by German biotech investor Dietmar Hopp, the Gates Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline - said volunteers developed a level of neutralizing antibodies on a par with people who had recovered from a serious case of COVID-19.
The pandemic, which has claimed more than 1.2 million lives globally, has triggered a scramble to develop a vaccine with about 45 experimental compounds being tested on humans.
Britain’s AstraZeneca, working with the University of Oxford, is also among the leading contenders with late-stage trial results expected this year. Their candidate is based on another virus, rather than mRNA, to deliver genetic instructions into the body for an immunization effect.
Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, said on Thursday that the first doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will likely become available to some high-risk Americans in late December or early January.