The first vaccine from the German CureVac laboratories it did not obtain the authorization of the European control organisms when obtaining a 47% of effectiveness to prevent coronavirus in any degree of severity. This percentage is considered below the predetermined statistical criteria of success. The vaccine used the same technology as that of Pfizer and Moderna – messenger RNA – and requires two doses to achieve immunization.
In any case, CureVac has a second-generation vaccine that, according to the latest studies, would have better results than the previous one. In mid-August the laboratories stated that this vaccine has a faster response, generates more antibodies and activates memory B and T cells more strongly. In addition, this vaccine would have more neutralizing capacity against the Beta, Delta and Lambda strains.
Stefan Mueller, Experienced Drug Discovery and Development Leader of CureVac, has participated in the II Symposium of the Health Observatory organized by EL ESPAÑOL to talk about the latest advances in vaccines in his laboratory. In this sense, Mueller has confirmed that the second-generation vaccine provides better results in recent studies– Rapidly generates neutralizing titers and reduces viral load in the lung and nasopharyngeal duct.
Regarding this last aspect, the second generation vaccine has shown a greater ability to reduce viral load than the first with the same dose. In fact, studies with apes show that on the seventh day after virus inoculation, the reduction in viral load is almost complete in the nose, pharynx and lungs. This can translate into a greater ability to prevent transmission of the virus. “That would be the Holy Grail, we hope to achieve a significant reduction in transmission, although to talk about this sterilizing capacity we need clinical data. We have a great level of confidence,” Mueller announced.
If it can be shown that the second generation CureVac vaccine is capable of stopping transmission, that is, that it has sterilizing capacity, it would be a great advance in vaccine production. Especially because the new variants, such as the Delta —which is the most widespread in Spain at the moment— have a great transmission capacity if it is compared with the Alpha or with the first variants that circulated at the beginning of the pandemic. The new variants of the Covid virus are, according to the expert, the main concern of those who develop vaccines.
CureVac is confident that the vaccine will be in high demand once it gets approval from regulatory bodies. In this sense, the second generation CureVac vaccine has shown success in immunizing against new variants such as Delta, although its neutralizing capacity is less. Changing a protein in this vaccine could result in an immune escape, that is, the antibodies in the body due to the infection or the vaccine stop working. Although the vaccine they develop may have a reduced neutralization, there is no immune escape.
Extend the vaccine
Mueller has also commented that it is being studied that the vaccine can be combined with others such as influenza or other respiratory infections, taking advantage of the messenger RNA platform they have used and the large cohort of their scientific studies.
As for the first-generation vaccine discarded by regulatory agencies, Mueller has acknowledged that the results were disappointing. Anyway, is positive, having achieved almost 50% effectiveness at this point in the pandemic. Therefore, they do not renounce the possibility of approving this vaccine at the end of the year “because there are shortcomings in the global vaccination campaigns.” Mueller recalled that the low vaccination rates in areas such as Africa must be combated because “only globally will the pandemic end.”
CureVac works with a messenger RNA platform that has proven to be very effective in the new approval, production and distribution times that the coronavirus pandemic has imposed. In addition, Mueller has highlighted that it is a very safe platform in light of the large sample of individuals who volunteered for vaccine studies. The German company trusts that the experience generated in recent months will be useful for the development of new vaccines.
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