German medical biotech trailblazing in corona vaccine race

Regulators in Germany and Belgium have given the Tübingen-based biotechnology company CureVac a green light for the start of the Phase 1 clinical trial of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate. This trial follows another by BioNTech of Mainz, which launched Phase 1/2 trial of its contender, BNT 162, in April.

Woman; Quelle: GettyImages/Martin-Barraud
© GettyImages/Martin-Barraud

CureVac's approval comes just after news that Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) invested EUR 300 million in the company. An agreement with the main shareholder dievini Hopp BioTech Holding gives the government around a 23 percent share in CureVac.

Media analysts describe the funding as a landmark investment, because the deal is the first of its kind for an innovative biotechnology enterprise in Germany. The BMWi has said CureVac will retain complete operational and strategic independence.

At a press conference, German Economics Minister Peter Altmaier said one aim of the measure was to shield CureVac from possible takeover from abroad. He added that all operating and strategic decisions would remain the exclusive purview of CureVac. "CureVac’s technology has the potential to develop disruptive new vaccines and therapeutic modalities that are accessible for many people and available via the market. The German Federal government has decided to invest in this promising company because it expects that this will accelerate the development programs and provide the means for CureVac to harness the full potential of its technology," said Altmaier.

At the same time, Altmaier added that the investment marked a first and important implementation of the Corona Economic Stimulus and Future Technologies Package. He said the aim of the program was to "secure more independence in the entire production process of medical substances and vaccines."

CureVac has long been cooperating internationally to cure diseases around the globe. Before starting to develop the Covid vaccine, its scientists had been working on an inoculation for rabies. CureVac’s key investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI). In 2015, the company opened its US hub in the city of Boston.

The export initiative for the German Healthcare Industry, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY, is the place to learn more about Germany’s dynamic, innovative medical biotechnology industry. The initiative’s website features an Information Center, Company Directory and links to download the short, English-language film Medical Biotechnology Made in Germany as well as the German Medical Biotechnology Industry Profile.