German biotech firm CureVac has agreed an alliance with drugmaker Bayer to help it seek regulatory approval for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and distribute doses, the two companies announced.
“Bayer will contribute its expertise and established infrastructure in areas such as clinical operations, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance, medical information, supply chain performance as well as support in selected countries,” they said.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
CureVac, which had said it was looking for a larger partner, last month started a late-stage clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, banking on the same technology that has allowed rivals BioNTech and Moderna to lead the development race.
The collaboration echoes a similar deal by German peer BioNTech, also a research-focused biotech firm, which last year agreed to collaborate with global pharma giant Pfizer on its vaccine, which is now being rolled out globally.
Nasdaq-listed CureVac, which is backed by investors Dietmar Hopp, the Gates Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline and the German government, has said it aims to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2021 and up to 600 million in 2022.
In March last year, CureVac was at the centre of a row over alleged attempts by U.S. President Donald Trump to gain access to the vaccine, but the company denied at the time having received any U.S. offers for the company or its assets.
Ahead of any regulatory approval, the European Union has secured up to 405 million doses of the immunisation, among a slew of supply deals agreed between the bloc and other vaccine developers.
Bayer’s pharma unit, which is trying to build a new cell and gene therapy business, has expertise in cancer, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and women’s health, but not in vaccines.
The group’s stock has been battered by billions of euros in writedowns at its agriculture division, litigation woes and a bleaker profit outlook, in large part related to its $63 billion takeover of seed maker Monsanto.
Main Photo: A view of a logo of biopharmaceutical company CureVac at the main building in Tuebingen, Germany. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK