Bayer agrees to help make CureVac's Covid-19 vaccine

BERLIN (REUTERS) – German pharmaceutical giant Bayer has agreed to help CureVac produce its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, the latest drugmaker to offer up manufacturing capacity as pressure mounts to boost supplies.

The drugmaker expects to produce 160 million doses of CureVac’s shot in 2022 at its Wuppertal site in western Germany, head of pharma Stefan Oelrich told a news conference on Monday (Feb 1).

CureVac, which struck a partnership with Bayer in January, started late-stage testing of its experimental vaccine in December and said it expected to have interim results in the first quarter.

Bayer is the latest drugmaker to join the push to remedy a shortfall of Covid-19 vaccines after Novartis and Sanofi both said last week that they would help make Pfizer’s shot.

European governments have faced criticism over supply and production bottlenecks, as vaccine makers AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna have all announced cuts to delivery volumes just as they were expected to ramp up production.

Germany – Europe’s largest economy – has been crippled by a second lockdown introduced in November, and many in the public are looking enviously at the faster pace of vaccination in Britain, Israel and the United States.

Keen to show it is taking action, the federal government is due to meet regional leaders, vaccine manufacturers and European representatives later on Monday to discuss how to boost production.

CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said manufacturers were struggling with production due to a shortage of equipment to make so-called messenger RNA vaccines.

Nasdaq-listed CureVac, which is backed by investors Dietmar Hopp, the Gates Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline as well as the German government, has said it aims to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2021.

Due to the cooperation with Bayer it expects to be able to make between 600 million and a billion doses in 2022, Mr Haas said.

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