CureVac vax likely doomed after showing low efficacy

June 17, 2021

The news from CureVac about its COVID-19 vaccine this week wasn’t encouraging.

According to the company, a preliminary analysis of a trial involving its mRNA candidate showed it to be about 47% effective in preventing symptomatic coronavirus illness. The late-stage trial involved 40,000 participants in 10 countries across Latin America and Europe.

The German company blamed the 13 known variants now in circulation, saying that more than half of the first 147 volunteers who fell ill had contracted one of the “variants of concern.” 

Despite the disappointing results, the company said that the trial is ongoing and it still plans to file for approval in the EU. However, analysts don’t expect the efficacy rate to change dramatically in the next round of results, which are slated to be released within a few weeks, and the EU’s threshold for efficacy to receive an emergency authorization is 50%.

The results also complicate the image of mRNA vaccines being a slam dunk against the coronavirus. Variants seem to be at least partly to blame as both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be significantly less effective against different variants around the world. 

CureVac said it is now on the hunt for a new mRNA molecule that will be more effective against a wide variety of variants.

Yet, news of the trial results have already pummeled CureVac’s stocks, which sank by 45% today in Germany, wiping nearly $8 billion from the company’s value.