COVID Booster Dreams Shattered: Bavarian Nordic Abandons Plans Post Lackluster Phase III Outcomes

Bavarian Nordic Abandons COVID Booster as New Variants Steal the Spotlight

In a dramatic turn of events, Danish company Bavarian Nordic is bowing out of the COVID-19 booster race, citing lackluster Phase III results against emerging variants of concern. Despite initially showing promise by matching Pfizer’s Comirnaty in terms of neutralizing antibodies against the original SARS-CoV-2 variant, Bavarian Nordic’s ABNCov2 ultimately fell short in the face of the ever-evolving virus landscape.

The company’s decision came after a deep dive into the data revealed that ABNCoV2’s neutralizing antibodies lagged behind the non-adapted Wuhan-based Comirnaty against more distant variants. What’s more, a smaller percentage of individuals developed detectable antibodies following ABNCoV2 (64%) compared to Comirnaty (85%).

With new variants like XBB.1.5 taking center stage as the primary concerns, Bavarian Nordic acknowledged the need for variant-specific COVID vaccines, echoing the stance of regulators such as the FDA, EMA, and WHO. Unfortunately, ABNCoV2 couldn’t keep up with the necessary adaptations within the seasonal timeframe, leading the company to abandon its commercial prospects.

While the capsid virus-like particle (cVLP) platform-based vaccine may not have panned out as hoped, Bavarian Nordic is not throwing in the towel. The company sees potential in the cVLP platform for future pandemics, and they plan to collaborate with authorities to apply the valuable insights gained from this development program.

This news arrives amid a flurry of activity from other vaccine makers, all racing against the clock to prepare boosters for the upcoming fall vaccination season. Pfizer recently secured EU approval for its adapted vaccine targeting the XBB.1.5 variant, joining a growing list of updated shots.

Novavax is also in the mix, with promising results against both the XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.16.6 variants. Their vaccine, while not initially FDA-approved, gained emergency use authorization later on, and the company aims to carve out its niche in the evolving landscape.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna, the established heavyweights in the COVID-19 arena, continue to adapt their vaccines to tackle the new variants as they gear up for the challenging autumn ahead.

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