CureVac to seek approval for coronavirus jab despite low efficacy


German biotech company CureVac aims to seek approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its coronavirus vaccine candidate, despite demonstrating an overall efficacy of just 48 per cent.

“The population aged 18 to 60 benefits in particular from our vaccine,” chief executive Franz-Werner Haas told an online press conference from company headquarters in Tuebingen on Thursday.

Late on Wednesday, the company announced that final analyses showed the vaccine had an efficacy of 48 per cent against Covid-19 illness across all age groups.

Split by age group, the efficacy came in at 53 per cent against all illness and 77 per cent against moderate or serious illness, with full protection in this group against hospitalization or death.

An earlier announcement following preliminary analysis put the efficacy at 47 per cent, and led the company’s valuation on stock markets to plunge.
CureVac spokeswoman Sarah Fakih said the data for over-60s in the study was insufficient to determine efficacy.

The Tuebingen-based company’s jab is a so-called mRNA vaccine, like the German-US BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and US-developed Moderna.

The final analysis examined 228 confirmed Covid-19 cases across 15 viral strains. 204 cases were sequenced to identify which variant caused the infection.
So-called variants of concern or special interest were identified in about 86 per cent of the cases.

About 40,000 subjects in 10 countries in Latin America and Europe participated in the study.

Karl Lauterbach, spokesman on health for Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is part of the ruling coalition, predicted that the EMA would not license the vaccine.

“With the low efficacy of 48 per cent, the CureVac vaccine would not be able to be used in Germany,” he told the Rheinische Post newspaper, pointing to much higher efficacy rates in vaccines already licensed.

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