Riding a wave of interest in mRNA-based vaccines, Germany's CureVac is looking to rapidly drive manufacturing of its own shot candidate. After announcing a plan to bring more partners on board, CureVac has knotted the first of those deals to the tune of 100 million doses.
CureVac has tagged German chemical company Wacker to churn out drug substance for its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine with the goal of adding 100 million doses per year to the biotech's stockpile, the partners said this week.
Wacker will produce those doses at its Amsterdam facility starting in the first half of 2021, the companies said. The firm plans to "ramp up" its manufacturing capacity to meet that demand and is prepared to expand in the future to add more doses.
Wacker's addition to CureVac's manufacturing consortium comes as the biotech looks to add a cadre of partners to boost production of its mRNA shot to more than 300 million doses next year.
Last week, CureVac unveiled its goal to produce 300 million doses of its vaccine, dubbed CVnCoV, in 2021 and up to 600 million doses in 2022 to meet what it expects to be greater demand given the early success of other mRNA vaccines.
To get there, CureVac will bolster its supply chain by enlisting companies like Wacker to help with each key step of the manufacturing process for CVnCoV. Preparations to kick off production and initiate technology transfers are already underway, CureVac said.
Earlier in the week, CureVac finalized terms with the EU to supply 405 million doses of CVnCoV, Reuters reported. The bloc will receive 225 million initial doses, with the option to later purchase another 180 million. Financial details were not disclosed.
While still in phase 2a testing, CureVac's shot candidate has seen a rising tide of interest as mRNA peers in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine posted exciting interim results in late-stage trials.
Vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna turned up early readouts showing efficacy of 95% and 94.5%, respectively, putting wind in the sales of bullish market watchers calling for a vaccine in arms by the end of the year.
CureVac is a far smaller player than either of its competitors, but it has seen big-name interest in recent months. Back in June, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that his company was working on making "RNA microfactories" for CureVac to help produce the biotech's vaccine.
While it's unclear exactly what Musk meant, some experts said the tweet appeared to refer to portable mRNA "printers," an as yet unproven technology that would significantly cut down the logistics challenges inherent to mRNA vaccines.