CureVac collapses 45% after disappointing results from COVID-19 vaccine trial

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in… read more.
on Jun 17, 2021
  • CureVac's candidate COVID-19 vaccine came out to be only 47% effective.
  • The shot was effective in younger participants but not in those over the age of 60.
  • Dr Amesh Adalja says CureVac's vaccine could still be an asset with 47% efficacy.

CureVac NV (NASDAQ: CVAC) slipped about 45% in the stock market on Thursday morning as the company said the late-stage trial showed its candidate COVID-19 vaccine to be only 47% effective, raising questions on the German biotech’s agreement with the European Union to deliver hundreds of millions of doses of its vaccine (CVnCoV).

CureVac’s shot was effective in younger participants

According to CureVac, the efficacy of its vaccine in younger volunteers was still significant. Those over the age of 60 (the most at-risk group), however, did not show it to be effective, as per the interim results. CEO Franz-Werner Haas said:

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“While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognise 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.”

CureVac’s study involved roughly 40,000 participants from Latin America and Europe. The interim results were based on 134 cases of the novel flu-like virus. The study, as per the Tubingen-based firm, identified at least 13 variants of the Coronavirus.

The prospects for CureVac’s vaccine had improved recently after AstraZeneca, and J&J’s COVID-19 shots met with age restrictions due to a very rare but potentially fatal risk of clotting disorders. The German biotech’s vaccine was also likely to help low and middle-income countries ramp up their vaccination drives.

CureVac’s vaccine could still be an asset

Dr Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, however, says that CureVac’s shot would still be an asset with a 47% efficacy if it at least helps minimise severe symptoms, hospitalisation, and death.

Dr Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine also highlights that it is yet to be evaluated if CureVac’s vaccine failed to produce the required levels of neutralising antibodies or the lower efficacy was variant-specific.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) targets at least 70% efficacy for the candidate COVID-19 vaccines, while the U.S. FDA looks for a minimum of 50% efficacy – a milestone that CureVac failed to achieve.

CureVac is now trading at $53 per share ($38 per share). This compares to a year-to-date high of $127 per share in the last week of April and $85 per share at the start of 2021. At the time of writing, the Nasdaq-listed company has a market cap of $9.20 billion.  

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