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Novartis (NVS) & CureVac Collaborate for COVID-19 Vaccine

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Novartis (NVS - Free Report) announced that it has signed an initial agreement with Germany-based biopharmaceutical company, CureVac (CVAC - Free Report) , to manufacture the mRNA and bulk drug product for the latter’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV.

Novartis has started preparations for initiating production, technology transfer and test runs. The production will take place in a new high-tech production facility that was already under construction at the Novartis Kundl, Austria site and will be adapted to the needs of the messenger RNA vaccine production for CVnCoV.

Following the final agreement, Novartis plans to start production in the second quarter of this year. The first deliveries of the bulk drug product are expected this summer. Novartis plans to produce up to 50 million doses of the mRNA and bulk drug product for the CureVac vaccine in 2021 and up to a further 200 million doses next year. The bulk drug product will then be delivered to CureVac for further processing and filling.

Novartis has also announced an initial agreement with BioNtech (BNTX - Free Report) to provide manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccination at its site in Stein, Switzerland. Novartis has also collaborated with Molecular Partners to develop two DARPin therapies designed for potential use against COVID-19.

Novartis has lost 11.6% in the year so far compared with the industry’s decline of 3.7%.

 

Earlier, CureVac also entered into a collaboration agreement with pharma giant Bayer (BAYRY - Free Report) for CVnCoV. Bayer will lend its arm in areas such as clinical operations, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance, medical information, supply-chain performance and support in selected countries. It has also collaborated with British pharma giant, GlaxoSmithKline, to jointly develop next-generation multi-valent mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.

We remind investors that CureVac began the development of its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates in January 2020. The phase I and phase IIa studies of CVnCoV began in June and September 2020, respectively.  In December 2020, CureVac initiated a phase IIb/III, HERALD study, with a 12µg dose of CVnCoV. Last month, the company initiated a rolling submission for CVnCoV with the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Pharma/biotech companies are racing against time and currently using every possible weapon in their arsenal to come out with preventive measures for COVID-19 on an urgent basis.

Both Novartis and CureVac currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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