FRANKFURT: German biotech firm CureVac said it has seen the number of requests for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine increase over the past few days, as concerns over rare side effects have hit some other coronavirus shots.
A CureVac spokesman said on Thursday that requests have been coming in from various quarters, including governments and international organisations but he declined to elaborate. The group is to hold an analyst call on fourth-quarter results at 1400 GMT.
The European Union in November secured up to 405 million doses of CureVac's two-shot messenger-RNA-based vaccine, which has yet to win regulatory approval, the company's only large supply contract so far.
Europe's choppy vaccine rollout hit more trouble this week after Johnson & Johnson (J&J) suspended shipments of its adenovirus-vector COVID-19 shot and Denmark said it would drop a similar vaccine from AstraZeneca over very rare cases of blood clotting.
In many European countries, AstraZeneca's shot has been limited to the elderly as the side effect in question, clotting in the brain, has primarily been seen in young and middle-aged vaccine recipients.
CureVac said in a statement on Thursday that it would start testing its COVID-19 vaccine on adolescents as young as 12 at the end of the month, as it gets ready to publish initial efficacy results for adults in the second quarter.
The spokesman reiterated the group - which is backed by investors Dietmar Hopp, the Gates Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline as well as the German government - hoped to file for regulatory approval at the end of May or early June.
CureVac said it would initially enrol about 40 adolescents aged 12 to 17 in Peru and Panama, the first stage of a broader study in this age group.
Its ongoing pivotal Phase 2b/3 study known as Herald, and initiated in December, has completed recruitment with over 40,000 adult participants in Europe and Latin America, the company said on Thursday.
Nasdaq-listed CureVac repeated it aims to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2021 and up to 1 billion in 2022.