Vaccine boost: Bavarian Nordic gets government support to join 2nd wave of COVID-19 jabs

Bavarian Nordic has secured support to make a late move for the COVID-19 vaccine market. Having missed out on the first phase of the global vaccination campaign, Bavarian Nordic is set to receive up to 800 million Danish krone ($126 million) from the Danish government to muscle in on the booster market.

Copenhagen-based Bavarian Nordic bagged the rights to a capsid viruslike particle vaccine candidate from AdaptVac in July 2020, teeing it up to embark on an R&D program originally intended to lead to regulatory approvals within 12 to 18 months. That target is now on the scrapheap, replaced by a plan to generate data on the use of the vaccine as a booster before starting a pivotal trial next year.

The Danish government has agreed to bankroll the plan. Friday, Bavarian Nordic said the Danish Parliament has given final approval to the funding, details of which were first shared one month ago.

Bavarian Nordic will pocket 10% of the cash upfront, with the rest tied to milestones such as the end of the ongoing phase 2 and the progress of the planned pivotal trial. The upfront funding will support a phase 2 clinical trial designed to show what happens when Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine, ABNCoV2, is given to people with immunity against SARS-CoV-2, acquired either through infection or vaccination.

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Seropositive participants will receive one 100-μg dose of ABNCoV2. In an earlier phase 1/2 dose escalation trial, subjects received doses ranging from 6 μg to 70 μg. Bavarian Nordic said two shots of ABNCoV2 triggered antibody titers that were up to 12-fold higher than those seen in convalescent plasma and “significantly” up on the levels generated by existing COVID-19 vaccines.

As well as assessing the effect of ABNCoV2 on levels of neutralizing antibodies in seropositive people, Bavarian Nordic will enroll 60 healthy adults with no existing immunity against the coronavirus to test the vaccine as a two-shot prime-boost regimen. 

The development timeline means Bavarian Nordic will miss out on booster campaigns designed to top up protection for the winter of 2021 to 2022. The Danish government, which is in line to receive ABNCoV2 doses in repayment for its financial support, plans to offer a third shot to everyone in the country.