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CureVac Shares Plunge After Disappointing Late-Stage COVID Vaccine Trial

"While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognize that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging," said CEO Franz-Werner Haas.

CureVac AG  (CVAC) - Get CureVac Report shares plunged Thursday after the German drugmaker said its developing coronavirus vaccine fell far short of efficacy targets in a major late stage trial.

CureVac, which unveiled its messenger-RNA based vaccine, known as CVnCOV last year, published details of a 40,000-patient trial late Wednesday that showed it had only a 47% efficacy rate against COVID-19, a figure that falls well shy of the mid 90% rates found in both clinical trial and real-word studies of those produced by Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report and Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and likely means it won't reach thresholds for approval from either the U.S. Food & Drug Administration or European Health officials. 

Earlier this year, the biotech group based in the southern German city of Tubingen unveiled a partnership with U.K.-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline  (GSK) - Get GlaxoSmithKline plc Sponsored ADR Report to to develop next-generation COVID vaccines, and had hoped to produce as many as a billion doses in 2022.

CureVac said in November that CVnCoV triggered antibody development in 250 human volunteers between the ages of 18 and 60 on a level similar to that of patients recovering from COVID-19. 

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"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 CEO Dr. Franz-Werner Haas. 'In addition, the variant-rich environment underlines the importance of developing next-generation vaccines as new virus variants continue to emerge."  

CureVac's U.S.-listed shares were marked 43.7% lower in pre-market trading Thursday to indicate an opening bell price of $53.41 each. GlaxoSmithKline, which owns a 10% stake in the German drugmaker, fell 1% in London to trade at £14.21 each.