Institut Pasteur to keep working on three COVID-19 vaccines

FILE PHOTO: A sculpture representing Louis Pasteur is seen outside the Pasteur Institute headquarters in Paris amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak France, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Institut Pasteur will keep its three COVID-19 vaccine projects running despite recent reports of high efficacy rates in two experimental shots by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, its science chief said.

The 133-year-old foundation named after biologist Louis Pasteur was one of the first organisations to announce in January its intention to come up with a vaccine.

Dozens have embarked on the race since.

There is no internationally-approved vaccine to prevent the disease. But Pfizer said it would apply to U.S. health regulators on Friday for emergency use authorization of its vaccine, followed by Moderna.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work using a new technology to trigger an immune response known as synthetic messenger RNA that can be produced at scale much more quickly than traditional vaccines.

“The announcements of Moderna and Pfizer will not make us end our projects. We keep the work going with the hope that one of them will succeed in humans in a time frame that remains to be assessed,” Pasteur’s head of science Christophe D’Enfert told Reuters television.

“Every vaccine project will have its own characteristics when it comes to duration of immunity and efficacy in populations. Not to mention other cost, production, and logistics aspects so, for us, having varied approaches makes sense.”

Pasteur is currently working on a candidate, for which it has teamed up with the U.S. company Merck, that uses a measles vaccine vehicle, and which is undergoing phase 1 trials.

Pasteur’s two other projects, in pre-clinical development, involve work with French biotechnology group TheraVectys for a vaccine candidate based on the use of a lentiviral vector - lentiviruses are specific types of viruses with HIV being one of them - as well as a vaccine using a DNA-based technology.

Reporting by Yiming Woo; Writing by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Giles Elgood