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Bayer and CureVac allies to speed up vaccine supply

It is an alliance that could considerably speed up the approval process for the vaccine candidate of the German biotech CureVac, then its manufacture and distribution, if it were authorized by the European authorities. Since January 7, the German pharmaceutical and agrochemical group Bayer has partnered with biotech in a “Vaccine alliance”, which combines the skills of the two companies.

CureVac, 560 employees and headquartered in Tübingen (Baden-Würtemberg), is currently in phase 3 of its clinical trials and hopes that they will be completed by the end of the first quarter. It would then apply for authorization, which would allow it to produce the 300 million doses targeted in 2021, according to its current forecasts.

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Bayer’s pharmaceutical division, for its part, has a long experience in clinical trials, and expertise in regulatory issues, licensing procedures and large-scale distribution that should ideally be able to support its new ally. . The Leverkusen group is currently examining whether its infrastructure can be adapted to production: the group has factories in Europe and the United States which could possibly be used for the vaccine, once approved.

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Messenger RNA technology

CureVac is in many ways comparable to its German competitor BioNtech, the biotechnology company which together with Pfizer released the very first anti-Covid-19 vaccine. Both use messenger RNA technology. Like BioNtech, CureVac is one of the few biotechs in the country that can finance its long-term research in Germany thanks to the support of a billionaire, in this case Dietmar Hopp, the co-founder of the IT group SAP. The entrepreneur has invested 1.5 billion euros in CureVac and still owns nearly half of its capital.

This participation is criticized by business circles, but also the Greens

But unlike BioNtech, CureVac has the characteristic of counting among its shareholders… the German State. Berlin had invested 300 million euros to secure 23% of the company’s capital, just before its IPO in the summer of 2020. This participation, then presented by the Minister of the Economy as “Of great industrial policy importance”, because of the strategic dimension of vaccines during a pandemic, is still criticized by business circles, but also by the Greens, who see it as an obstacle to competition, even though BioNtech has remained 100% private.

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