Shares of CureVac (NASDAQ:CVAC) are down by nearly 50% in pre-market trading on Thursday after the Germany-based biotech firm said its first-generation Covid-19 vaccine candidate didn’t meet the prespecified statistical success criteria. CVAC stock has been publicly traded for less than a year.
CVAC stock has had a volatile 2021. Shares climbed as high as $128 in late April as investors anticipated the results of the second interim analysis of its international pivotal Phase 2b/3 study in approximatively 40,000 subjects of the biotech’s candidate, CVnCoV.
The results released today showed only 47% effectiveness for the shot, making CureVac’s entry one of the least effective coronavirus vaccines tested. Efficacy rates were at 90% for competing candidates of Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA).
The company attributed the underwhelming results to strains of the virus circulating in 10 countries across Latin America and Europe, where its trials were carried out.
CureVac set up as partnership with Bayer (OTCMKTS:BAYRY) to produce its coronavirus vaccine and has an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) to create a next generation of vaccines. Today’s results throw those options into question.
CVAC Stock Was Always a Horse Bet
To be sure, there were always a lot of “ifs” and assumptions in CureVac’s Covid-19 efforts. CVAC stock from the start was a back-of-the-pack, horse-betting gamble. However, investors were also betting that the European Union would want to have a stable contract with a European producer, not just with American companies.
“While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognize that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging. As we are continuing toward the final analysis with a minimum of 80 additional cases, the overall vaccine efficacy may change,” said Dr. Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac. “In addition, the variant-rich environment underlines the importance of developing next-generation vaccines as new virus variants continue to emerge.”
Besides Covid-19, the company has a deep pipeline of pre-clinical and clinical studies. This includes indications like yellow fever, rabies and other infectious disease. In addition, the company also has a pipeline for oncology and protein therapy.
Coming back to the vaccine against Covid-19, CureVac said it still expects to progress, along with GSK, with the second-generation vaccine candidate into clinical testing in the third quarter of 2021. Its goal is to introduce the vaccine in 2022, subject to regulatory approval.
On the date of publication, Robert Lakin did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
InvestorPlace contributor Robert Lakin is a veteran financial writer and editor, including previous stints with Bloomberg News and as a buyside equity research editor. His Substack newsletter, TLV Strategist, covers the Israel business scene.