Many investors thought CureVac (NASDAQ:CVAC) would be the next to market with an mRNA vaccine. And soon. But the vaccine candidate's future looks uncertain after a recent trial report. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on June 22, healthcare and cannabis bureau editor and analyst Olivia Zitkus and Fool.com contributor Adria Cimino discuss CureVac's phase 3 data report -- and what it means for the company's future in the coronavirus vaccine space.
Olivia Zitkus: CureVac. Another latecomer had some bad news for investors recently. It recently said its mRNA vaccine candidate showed only 47% efficacy in its pivotal clinical trial. That's a lot lower than the 90% plus numbers we're used to seeing from Pfizer and Moderna, and now Novavax. Is the CureVac story over? What are we looking at here?
Adria Cimino: Well, it's true that this is definitely not good news. The vaccine didn't meet pre-specified criteria for success. Even worse, one of the things they mentioned, the company can't draw a conclusion on efficacy in the 60-plus age group. That's a pretty big deal because the older community has been more vulnerable to coronavirus, so the vaccine really needs to work for this community. This definitely is not good news. CureVac says that the reason for all of this, the low efficacy, is that they faced so many variants. They detected at least 13 variants in the study group that they looked at when they were compiling all this data. They said that that is what lowered the efficacy of the vaccine candidate. But, of course now, we see that Moderna and Pfizer so far in the real world population as they vaccinate people, they are not having much of an issue really, with the variants. It seems like they're doing pretty well. Again, just because it's an mRNA vaccine doesn't mean it's identical. Even Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are different. Yes, they are based on mRNA technology, but that doesn't mean they're identical. It's possible that, yeah, Moderna and Pfizer could be doing well on variants, and this other one, CureVac, is not doing as well on variants. That's definitely a possibility. Now, CureVac is not closing the door, they are waiting for the final analysis that they're going to do after accruing 80 more cases at least of COVID, and they're going to analyze everything, and then they're going to decide on the regulatory pathway. We don't know what's going to happen yet, but so far, things are looking grim. Now, the good news here is that the company is also working on a next-generation candidate, and they say that this next-generation candidate is different. It's still mRNA technology, of course, but it's been optimized to a greater degree. It's more stable, and they are saying that it's different than the candidate that they just reported data on. This one is meant to address variants. We could have some hope on that candidate. But again, they have good pre-clinical data there, but I'd like to see some clinical trial data on that one before really saying, "hey, this is great news." But it's something to watch, meaning that we don't close the door.
Zitkus: We might not be shutting the door yet, but yeah, that 60-plus age group data, the information on that group, undetermined efficacy there. I guess the other really important area to look at is the ability to prevent severe disease. That's one of the other important components, so might or might not come out of data like this.