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: CureVac’s COVID vaccine has important role to play in fighting variants, CEO says

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CureVac’s CEO said the company’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine can still play an important role in the pandemic fight given the “rapid spread” of concerning variants.

Franz-Werner Haas said the German company’s shot, called CVnCoV, was in the final stages of development and had benefited from the diverse range of virus variants included in its trials. He noted that new strains emerging in recent months had superseded the original strain, which spread across the world last year.

Nasdaq-listed CureVac
CVAC,
+0.89%

said it was expecting to publish data from Phase 2b/3 trials of its vaccine candidate in the second quarter, which would allow it to finalize its rolling submission with the European Medicines Agency. The European regulator started a rolling review of the shot in February based on preliminary results from laboratory studies and early clinical studies in adults.

Read: BioNTech says COVID-19 vaccine likely to be effective against Indian coronavirus variant

Shares of CureVac edged higher by 0.15% early Wednesday in New York. The stock has risen 43.2% this year.

A number of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the one first identified in India, have sparked concern in recent months after causing spikes in cases in some countries. Public health bodies and the major vaccine makers, including Germany’s BioNTech
BNTX,
+2.12%

and its partner Pfizer
PFE,
-1.11%
,
as well as Moderna
MRNA,
+2.55%

and AstraZeneca
AZN,
-0.66%

AZN,
-0.30%
,
have been racing to determine whether existing jabs are effective against the new variants.

Haas said that CureVac’s trials included a range of variants and that its vaccine had a part to play in the battle against COVID.

“In this variant rich environment, we are convinced that our first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV, will make an important contribution to the pandemic vaccination programs, for which availability of potent vaccines is now more important than ever to stop the virus from evolving further.”

Read: CureVac to develop new variant vaccines for the U.K.

“CVnCoV is in the final stage of clinical development in what we believe is one of the most diverse efficacy trials in terms of the range of virus variants.”

His comments came as the company reported first-quarter results, which saw revenue rise more than 200% to €10 million ($12.2 million). That was driven by €9.1 million from its partnership with GSK
GSK,
-0.21%

GSK,
-0.03%

to develop next-generation COVID-19 vaccines and antibody treatments.

Operating losses widened to €115.8 million in the first three months of the year, from €23.2 million a year before, which the company said was down to higher research-and-development costs associated with Phase 2b/3 trials of CVnCoV. 

CureVac posted a pretax loss of €112.2 million, compared with a €23.9 million loss in the year-earlier period.

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