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

CureVac molecules image
CureVac has terminated manufacturing contracts with Wacker and Celonic as part of a strategic decision to adjust the company’s long-term presence in the external European mRNA manufacturing network. (CureVac)

After its first-generation COVID-19 vaccine posted efficacy of just 48% in a late-stage trial, CureVac is scaling back its manufacturing ambitions in Europe.

Tuesday, the German biotech said it has terminated manufacturing contracts with Wacker and Celonic as part of a strategic decision to reduce its European manufacturing footprint.

The cancellations won’t affect CurVac’s agreements with Rentschler Biopharma or Novartis for the production and formulation of mRNA. The company also plans to have enough clinical trial material for CV2CoV, a second-gen COVID-19 vaccine candidate under joint development with GlaxoSmithKline.

The decision comes amid the biopharma industry's "continuous increase," in mRNA capacity, CureVac Chief Operating Officer Malte Greune, Ph.D., said in a statement. That capacity increase, combined with the "large-scale vaccination efforts" already underway, have "strongly changed the demand for our first-generation COVID-19 vaccine,” Greune added.

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The company didn't disclose financial terms of the contract terminations.

Earlier this year, CureVac inked an initial manufacturing agreement with Novartis that was forecast to bump the mRNA biotech’s overall vaccine capacity by 50 million doses in 2021 and 200 million doses by 2022. The company had said at the time it was looking at producing 300 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year and up to 600 million doses next year to meet a large European supply order.

Even after CureVac's first-gen shot, CVnCoV, failed a phase 3 trial in June, the company is still pursuing European authorization for that shot.

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