German company CureVac said on Friday that its Covid-19 vaccine had passed its first interim analysis, but that it was not yet ready to share data on its protection against infection. The vaccine could be cheaper and more accessible to low-income countries that lack vaccines.
The company said an independent data security oversight committee found no security concerns. But the board did not share any efficacy data, suggesting it is not yet clear how much protection the vaccine provides.
“The trial will continue to collect enough data to conduct a statistically significant efficacy analysis,” the company said in its statement.
The CureVac vaccine is based on mRNA technology, such as those developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. These vaccines are used in the United States and the European Union and have been shown to be very effective, raising hopes that CureVac could provide equally strong protection against Covid-19.
The CureVac vaccine may have some advantages over other mRNA vaccines. It can be stored in the refrigerator for at least three months at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can sit for 24 hours at room temperature before using.
In their original formulations, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were to be stored in the freezer. The two companies have cobbled together their recipes to make their vaccines more stable at warmer temperatures, which could expand their use in poorer countries where freezing is a problem.
The doses of CureVac could also prove to be cheaper than others. Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, released a report on Wednesday from researchers at Imperial College London, estimating the costs of producing enough RNA vaccines to provide herd immunity in low- and middle-income countries. The researchers found that it would cost $ 23 billion to manufacture 8 billion doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, $ 9 billion for Moderna and only $ 4 billion for CureVac.
Last year, the company’s vaccine showed promising results when used on animals. In December, they launched their last clinical trial, recruiting 40,000 volunteers in 10 countries in Latin America and Europe. On Wednesday, CureVac said more information on its vaccine trial would arrive by the end of June.