CureVac slashes COVID-19 vaccine production plans

Dose of CureVac vaccine or a placebo is seen in Brussels
A dose of CureVac vaccine or a placebo is seen during a study by the German biotech firm CureVac as part of a testing for a new vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
  • CureVac cancels manufacturing deals with Wacker, Celonic
  • Deals with Novartis, Bayer, Rentschler, Fareva unaffected
  • CureVac cites rivals' dominance in immunisation campaigns

FRANKFURT, Sept 14 (Reuters) - German biotech firm CureVac (5CV.DE) said on Tuesday it cancelled contract manufacturing deals for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine with two prospective partners, after rivals with approved shots have boosted production.

Agreements with Celonic Group of Switzerland and Germany's Wacker (WCHG.DE) would be terminated but existing production deals with Rentschler Biopharma and Novartis (NOVN.S) would remain unchanged, CureVac said in a statement.

Manufacturing contracts with Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and Fareva were also unaffected, a spokesperson added.

CureVac fell far behind rivals BioNTech (22UAy.DE), a partner of Pfizer (PFE.N), and Moderna (MRNA.O), in trying to develop an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The BioNTech-Pfizer alliance, in particular, has been a dominant force among suppliers to Western countries, with well over 1 billion doses delivered so far.

"The continuous increase in mRNA manufacturing capacity together with the progress of large-scale vaccination efforts have strongly changed the demand for our first-generation COVID-19 vaccine, CVnCoV, over the last months,” said CureVac Chief Operating Officer Malte Greune.

Financial terms of the cancellation would not be disclosed, the company added.

CureVac in June and July published disappointing trial data on its initial vaccine candidate, and European regulatory approval is yet outstanding. read more

It is also working with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) on a next generation of COVID-19 vaccines. read more

Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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