CureVac may let contractors make rival vaccines if own shot fails -CEO

By Tilman Blasshofer and Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT, June 17 (Reuters) - German biotech firm CureVac 5CV.DE could allow its network of manufacturing partners to be repurposed to make vaccines developed by other companies should its own experimental shot fail, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.

The German company saw billions of euros wiped from its market value on Thursday after its COVID-19 vaccine proved only 47% effective in an initial trial read-out, denting investor confidence in its ability to take on rival shots.

"At the moment we are of course fully committed to obtain authorisation, the data will show," CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas told Reuters TV, referring to a final read-out that is still pending.

"If this capacity is not to be used - we are working with a whole network of outstanding partners - ... these partners would of course be free to make other products if we don't have a product," he said.

CureVac's manufacturing partners include Celonic Group of Switzerland, Novartis NOVN.S , Bayer BAYGn.DE , Fareva, Wacker WCHG.DE and Rentschler Biopharma SE.

However, Haas stressed that CureVac's efforts to develop a new generation of vaccines, a venture where it collaborates with GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L , would take precedence and that he would continue to draw on the external contractors for that drive

Drug supply chain expert Prashant Yadav said that if CureVac's partners were to make different mRNA vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNtech's PFE.N BNTX.O or Moderna's MRNA.O , it would take at least six to eight weeks to retool their facilities.

Yadav suggested that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine might be a better candidate, given that BioNTech is in Germany and many of CureVac's manufacturing partners are in Germany and Austria.

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Reporting by Tilman Blasshofer, Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss; Editing by Pravin Char and Richard Chang

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