Germany’s CureVac AG won approval to start human trials of a novel coronavirus vaccine just days after the company secured backing from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.Regulators gave the company the green light to test the shot in first-phase trials on 168 healthy people, according to a statement on Wednesday. It’s the second such treatment to go into clinical testing in Germany.
CureVac’s product is based on an unproven but promising area of pharmaceutical development known as messenger RNA, in which the vaccine teaches the body’s cells to identify and attack the virus. It’s slightly behind that of front-runners Moderna Inc. of the U.S. and BioNTech SE, a local rival, in terms of potential speed to market.
As worldwide coronavirus cases top 8 million, governments, investors and the public are keenly watching the race to deliver vaccines that could prevent future infections. Dozens of candidates are being developed in nations from the U.S. to the U.K. and China, with several in human trials, according to the World Health Organization.
Germany this week announced a plan to buy 23% of Tuebingen-based CureVac for 300 million euros ($338 million) as Merkel’s government tries to secure a supply of any successful pandemic shot.The company has been considering following Moderna and BioNTech onto the stock market, Chief Financial Officer Pierre Kemula said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday, though no firm plans are in place.