Bayer, CureVac part ways on COVID-19 vaccine: reports

CureVac molecules image
A Bayer spokesman says it and CureVac have decided to terminate their contract to manufacture and develop a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine. (CureVac)

Bayer and fellow Germany-based CureVac are cutting ties to their manufacturing partnership to produce the biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was found to be less effective than originally hoped.

A Bayer spokesman told the German newspaper Rheinische Post that the company and CureVac “have decided by mutual agreement to not continue cooperation,” Reuters reported.

The disclosure of the contract dissolution comes days after CureVac announced it was abandoning its first-generation COVID-19 vaccine in the wake of a phase 3 clinical trial that showed earlier this summer that the shot had an efficacy of just 48%. Bayer had said earlier this year it was eyeing a production run of 160 million doses of the CureVac vaccine in 2022.

The disappointing clinical results of the vaccine triggered CureVac to begin scaling back its manufacturing ambitions in Europe despite explosive growth for other viral-vector-focused companies that have been busy expanding due to demand created by the global pandemic.

RELATED: After late-stage trial setback, CureVac terminates COVID-19 vaccine contracts with Wacker, Celonic

Earlier this month, CureVac announced it was terminating manufacturing deals with Wacker and Celonic as part of its retreat. Still, the company said its decision won’t affect agreements with Rentschler Biopharma or Novartis for the manufacture and formulation of mRNA, and it will continue working on a second-generation COVID-19 vaccine with partner GlaxoSmithKline.

At the time of those contract cancellations, Malte Greune, Ph.D., CureVac’s chief operating officer, said large-scale vaccination efforts “strongly changed the demand for our first-generation COVID-19 vaccine.”