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Guillaume Souvant/AFP via Getty Images

The messenger RNA-focused biotech


said early Tuesday that is canceling deals with two companies it had contracted to manufacture its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, a sign of dimming hopes that the vaccine will play a substantial role in beating back the pandemic.


‘s vaccine, known as CVnCoV, has disappointed in clinical trials. The pullback comes as manufacturing capacity grows for CureVac competitors,


(ticker: PFE) and its partner


(BNTX), and



CureVac (CVAC) framed the contract cancellations in a statement as a “strategic decision to adjust the long-term footprint of the external European manufacturing network for its mRNA product pipeline.” CureVac (ticker: CVAC) said that it now sees reduced short-term demand for CVnCoV.

Human trials of CVnCoV missed expectations earlier this year, when the company said the vaccine had demonstrated 48% efficacy against Covid-19. In August, CureVac said that its second-generation Covid-19 vaccine, CV2CoV, for which it is collaborating with


(GSK), had worked better than CVnCoV in a preclinical test in monkeys.

CureVac said Tuesday the cancellation of the two contracts wouldn’t afffect the availability of doses of CV2CoV for clinical trials, expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year.

Shares of CureVac were down 8% in premarket trading on Tuesday, but some of those losses eased after the market open. The stock fell 1.5% to $65.08 in recent trading. As of the close of the market on Monday, the stock is down 18.5% so far this year.

“The development from a very high, short-term pandemic demand to broader availability of vaccines has led us to re-evaluate our immediate manufacturing capacity requirements in order to align the capacity with actual commercial and clinical capacity needs for CVnCoV,” CureVac’s chief operating officer, Malte Greune, said in a company statement.

CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccines, like those developed by


and its partner BioNTech, and Moderna, use messenger RNA technology. Along with BioNTech, Moderna, and a firm called


Bio (TBIO)—which was recently acquired by


(SNY)—CureVac was one of the early innovators in messenger RNA long before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the technology to the world’s attention.

CureVac went public in August 2020, and by the end of May 2021, its share price was up nearly 100%. The stock then fell sharply in June, as the company reported data from the disappointing trial of CVnCoV.

Neither of CureVac’s experimental Covid-19 vaccines currently have regulatory approval. CVnCoV is currently being reviewed by the European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs in the European Union.

In its statement Tuesday, CureVac said it was canceling its contract with

Wacker Chemie

(WKCMF) to make the drug substance for CVnCoV. It also canceled a similar a contract with the privately held Celonic. The company didn’t offer any financial details on the contact cancellations.

Separate manufacturing agreements with Rentschler Biopharma and


(NVS) aren’t affected, the company said.

Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at josh.nathan-kazis@barrons.com

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