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UK and CureVac to jointly develop vaccines against COVID-19 variants

Agreement will utilise UK’s expertise in genomics and CureVac’s experience in mRNA vaccine development

The UK government has announced a partnership with German biopharma company CureVac, which will seek to develop vaccines against new COVID-19 variants.

The agreement will combine the UK’s expertise in genomics and virus sequencing with CureVac’s resources and experience in mRNA vaccine development.

CureVac is also set to transfer its technology to the UK government, to enable the manufacturing of clinical and commercial quantities of vaccines that are developed as part of the collaboration.

The UK’s Vaccines Task Force will work with CureVac to assess multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, and will then seek to generate vaccine candidates against the selected strains.

The UK will fast-track clinical studies with the aim of securing emergency or conditional marketing authorisations for the vaccines as soon as possible.

In a statement, the UK government added that ‘almost all vaccines’ developed as part of the CureVac partnership will be variants of the German company’s existing vaccine, CVnCoV.

“[The agreement with CureVac] will mean the UK is better prepared for the emergence of any significant new virus variant,” said Clive Dix, interim chair of the UK’s Vaccines Taskforce.

“Because these mRNA vaccines can be rapidly adapted we will be ready to respond swiftly to new strains and update vaccines in the same way the flu vaccine is updated each year – a vital part of ending the pandemic once and for all,” he added.

Last week, CureVac also announced a new collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to develop next-generation mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines.

That deal will focus on developing novel mRNA-based vaccine candidates by using multivalent and monovalent approaches.

The next-generation vaccines will aim to offer broad protection against the newly emerging variants that have been reported to potentially reduce the efficacy of first-generation mRNA-based jabs.

CureVac's existing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate is being tested in a recently launched, global phase 2b/3 trial.

This late-stage study aims to enrol over 35,000 participants aged 18 years or older across Europe and Latin America.

The study participants will receive a two-dose schedule of either CVnCoV or a placebo to assess the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

In January, CureVac partnered with Bayer on the development, supply and key territory operations of CVnCoV.

CureVac will remain the marketing authorisation holder for the product, while Bayer will support the company with specific country operations in the EU and ‘additional markets'.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

8th February 2021

From: Research

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