A German vaccine developer says its new vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures, a major feat in the vaccine industry.
As the second wave of Covid-19 is wreaking havoc across several developing countries, the vaccine rollout has become one of the most crucial agents in slowing down the pandemic.
Developed nations have increased their rollouts to considerable levels, thanks to their strong economies and easy access to vaccines such as Astrazeneca, Pfizer&BioNTech, Moderna, Sputnik V and other Chinese vaccines.
But for many underdeveloped and developing states, securing supply that is proportionate to the size of their respective populations, has become an arduous task.
Pfizer&BioNTech and Moderna have developed vaccines by deploying genetic molecules called RNA by making a breakthrough in the field.
However, they are not so commonly used apart from the US, the EU and certain countries due to the limited supply and difficulties of transporting to remote areas.
While several parts of the world are reeling from the devastation caused by the coronavirus, a German vaccine maker CureVac could potentially offer hope to the unvaccinated world.
Like other vaccine developers using RNA, CureVac has long been working on the same technology as it is on the verge of an announcement over its late-stage clinical trials.
CureVac has certain advantages over others, including two RNA vaccines, because it can be stored at refrigerator temperatures. This fact will allow nations to transfer the vaccines to remote, hard-hit parts of the world.
CureVac’s co-founder, biologist Ingmar Hoerr, who has 25 years of experience in the RNA technology field, has long ago believed to code RNA into molecules.
Despite establishing the company in 2001, earlier than other rivals, CureVac fell behind them in developing the vaccine using RNA.
In 2019, it was supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(C.E.P.I.) for $34 million in its research and tests.
BioNTech and Moderna have finalised RNA Covid-19 vaccines in a short time thanks to their big investments and rich allies.
“If you do this, you need a considerable amount of cash,” Franz-Werner Haas, the chief executive of CureVac, said. “And the considerable amount of cash was not there.”
Last June, the company received an investment of about 300 million euros ($360 million) from the German government and other investors followed it.
Scientists have big expectations of CureVac, like the other RNA shots.
So what gives CureVac hope for the unvaccinated parts of the world?
The European Union has already made some agreements and negotiations to fix its shortfall of vaccines. In April, the union had almost finalised the agreement to get 1.8 billion doses till 2023 from Pfizer and BioNTech.
“They’re going to miss the boat on the major, advanced-economy markets,” said Dr. Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C.
“The U.S., Europe and Japan are going to be largely vaccinated using these Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” he added.
Under current circumstances, CureVac could send its shots to both Europe and other regions of the world.
Due to the challenges of distributing Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots, CureVac could be used for COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines led by the WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, thanks to the easy storing options that it has in moderate conditions.
It can sit for 24 hours at room temperature and be stored for at least three months at 5°C.
Nicholas Jackson, the head of programs and innovative technology at the C.E.P.I, said: “The stability is a real advantage,” for being used for COVAX programs.