Belgium has ordered 2.9 million doses of a new German Covid vaccine called Curevac, but the vaccine has just reported disappointing results on efficacy.
Do those ordered vaccines have to be delivered and paid for? And if not, how will that affect planning for the country’s vaccination programme.
Corevac would ordinarily be the fifth vaccine to join the Belgian armoury against Covid-19, albeit late in the day, when 64% of the population have already had one dose, and 36% are fully vaccinated.
But a test from the company itself has demonstrated that the vaccine is only 47% effective against the virus – below the limit for being approved, even as a possible third or booster dose.
The European Union has already ordered 225 million doses of the vaccine, with an option for 180 million more, and 2.9 million of those are for Belgium. Is there any point in going through with that order?
“We have plenty of other vaccines,” said virologist Johan Neyts suspects. “On the contrary: perhaps there will be a surplus of vaccines in this and other Western countries in the autumn, which we can then donate to countries with too few vaccines.”
On the plus side, Curevac is more stable in higher temperatures than other similar vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna – two other mRNA vaccines that work according to the same principle.
That would make it more suitable for warmer climes, as well as developing countries where refrigeration is less easy to come by.
Curevac said it would continue working on the development of its vaccine.
“The ultimate effectiveness may still change,” said CEO Franz-Werner Haas. “We had hoped for stronger results in the interim analysis, but we have found it difficult to achieve high efficacy with this unprecedented array of virus variants.”