Officials in Europe have engaged some of the world's largest biopharma companies in COVID-19 vaccine supply talks, but now Germany’s CureVac is moving into advanced supply negotiations with the union.
CureVac and the EU have moved into “advanced discussions” in a potential deal to supply 225 million doses of the company’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The deal, which is contingent on the vaccine succeeding in testing, would also include an option to purchase another 180 million doses.
So far, AstraZeneca is the only drugmaker to ink a finalized supply deal with the European Commission. European officials are also in advanced negotiations with Johnson & Johnson and a partnership between Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.
The AstraZeneca deal calls for 400 million vaccine doses at no profit, with deliveries possibly starting late this year. Johnson & Johnson is negotiating a deal to supply 200 million doses, while the Sanofi and GSK team is in talks to deliver 300 million doses.
CureVac entered phase 1 testing in June and expects early results in the fourth quarter of 2020, when it could launch a phase 2b/3 trial. In phase 1, the biotech is aiming to learn more about the vaccine’s immunological profile and safety and to determine the optimal dose.
The company is “very pleased to further strengthen the European Commission’s endeavor to provide rapid access to a safe and effective vaccine against the COVID-19 virus across Europe and beyond," CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said in a statement. If the vaccine succeeds, CureVac is “fully committed to ensure broad access to our vaccine,” he added.
The supply talks come after a period of executive turnover at CureVac. As the company and others responded to the pandemic back in March, CureVac lost two CEOs in two weeks. Haas served as interim CEO from March until early August, when he was named the company's new chief.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials have inked COVID-19 supply deals with AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, Sanofi/GSK and Johnson & Johnson totaling 800 million doses. As the vaccines move toward potential emergency use authorizations or approvals, analysts are starting to calculate the potential windfalls for the winners. In a recent note to clients, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal predicted COVID-19 vaccines would generate $20 billion next year.