The two leading German biotech companies producing vaccines against Covid-19 have both reached important milestones.
On December 12, the vaccine candidate developed by BioNTech together with its American partner Pfizer was approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). People began to be inoculated the following Monday.
Earlier in the month, the United Kingdom gave the green light to the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and began immunizing its citizens. Approval for the serum by the European regulatory authority European Medicines Agency (EMA) is pending.
Meanwhile, the other German vaccine developer CureVac announced on December 14 that Phase IIb/Phase III testing had commenced on its candidate. The tests, the final crucial stage before application for approval, involve more than 35,000 subjects, and initial results are expected in late winter or early spring 2021.
Both products are RNA vaccines that work by introducing an mRNA sequence coded for a disease-specific antigen. Curevac says its candidate has the advantage of being able to be stored at temperatures far higher than the minus 70 degrees Celsius required by the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Experts generally agree that multiple vaccines will ultimately be needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.