The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), announced that it will fund the development of the protein-based S-Trimer COVID-19 vaccine candidate by Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals (Clover), through a global pivotal Phase 2/3 efficacy clinical trial and to licensure in China and globally, if the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective.
CEPI’s total investment in Clover’s S-Trimer vaccine candidate will be up to $328 million, including previously announced commitments of $69.5 million which have funded preclinical studies and Phase 1 clinical trials, preparations for the global pivotal Phase 2/3 efficacy study, and initial manufacturing scale-up activities. Promising preclinical and preliminary Phase 1 data – which will be published in a peer-reviewed publication in the near future – indicate that S-Trimer is well-tolerated and produces strong neutralising antibody and Th1-biased cell-mediated immune responses, which merit ongoing evaluation of the vaccine candidate.
The expanded partnership is a result of Clover’s successful early-stage clinical development of the S-Trimer vaccine candidate. It will provide full funding for a global Phase 2/3 efficacy clinical trial of S-Trimer which is expected to begin before the end of 2020 and aims to generate the necessary safety and efficacy data to support licensure of the vaccine candidate. It will also fund additional clinical studies in special populations, such as people with autoimmune conditions, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women and children. In parallel to the clinical development process, the programme will continue scaling up the manufacturing process to potentially allow the production of more than one billion doses annually, and build up vaccine inventory which – if the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective – could be deployed rapidly upon licensure.
Clover is exploring development pathways for the S-Trimer vaccine to be made accessible to populations in China and globally, if it is proven to be safe and effective. CEPI and Clover are committed to ensuring equitable global access to the S-Trimer vaccine, and the agreement therefore anticipates that vaccine output funded by CEPI’s investment – potentially hundreds of millions of doses per year – will be made available for procurement and allocation through the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global initiative which aims to procure and fairly distribute two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021, to help protect the most at-risk groups in all participating countries.
Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI said, “The clinical development and manufacturing progress of Clover’s S-Trimer vaccine candidate are very promising so far, so I am pleased to extend our partnership with Clover through to potential licensure of the vaccine. CEPI’s expanded investment will fund critical late-stage clinical trials to establish the efficacy of the vaccine, in parallel to scaling up the manufacturing process with the goal of making potentially hundreds of millions of doses of this vaccine available to those who need it through COVAX, if it is proven to be safe and effective.”
Joshua Liang, CEO of Clover said, “We are honoured to receive CEPI’s continued investment which is based on months of close collaboration and early preclinical, manufacturing scale-up, and clinical success in the development of a safe and efficacious vaccine for COVID-19. This expanded partnership enables Clover to advance our S-Trimer vaccine candidate into a global Phase 2/3 efficacy study by the end of this year and subsequently to Chinese and global licensure in 2021. We look forward to continuing our partnership with CEPI as we stay committed to developing a safe and efficacious vaccine for communities in need around the globe.”