Arcturus’s latecomer Covid vaccine elicits little interest

Uncertainty about future demand for Covid vaccines has already hit shares in the big manufacturers of such products, while Johnson & Johnson yesterday withdrew sales guidance for its own vaccine, citing surplus in supply. So an underwhelming response to results on Arcturus’s latecomer are perhaps unsurprising – shares in the biotech sank 20% in early trade today after it unveiled top line results from a large pivotal study conducted in Vietnam. ARCT-154, which the company describes as a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine, generated efficacy of 55% in preventing symptomatic infection. While this is a far cry from the 90%+ rates report by the first wave of vaccines, it is probably not far off what the incumbents are achieving in today’s variant filled world. And 95% efficacy against prevention of severe disease sounds competitive. Arcturus is in the process of filing the product in Vietnam, and plans to start a booster study with an eye to use in Western markets. But given the stockpile of existing products and slowing vaccination rates, this could all be moot, at least commercially speaking. Little wonder that investors have lost interest.

Aiming for the booster market? the second wave of Covid-19 vaccines 
Company Project Mechanism/technology  Status Trial
Medicago (Mitsubishi; uses Glaxosmithkline adjuvant) Covifenz Plant-based virus-like particle vaccine Top line VE 71%; approved in Canada, under review in US and UK.  NCT04636697
Novavax Nuvaxovid  Recombinant spike protein vaccine Top line VE 91% (Jun 2021); approved in Europe, Japan and other countries; filed in US.  NCT04583995
Valneva VLA2001 Adjuvanted, inactivated virus  Succeeded in ph3 Cov-Compare vs Vaxzevria*; approved in UK, filed in Europe.  NCT04864561
Sanofi/Glaxosmithkline Unnamed Monovalent and bivalent recombinant protein vaccines Top line VE 58%; filings planned in Europe and US.  NCT04904549
Arcturus  ARCT-154 mRNA vaccine  Top line VE 55%; filed in Vietnam.  NCT05012943; NCT05037097
Inovio/VGX Pharmaceuticals INO-4800/
DNA vaccine Company seeking approval to change primary endpoint of Ph3 Innovate trial to prevention of severe disease; interim efficacy data due H1 2022. NCT04642638
Bavarian Nordic  ABNCoV2 Capsid virus-like particle vaccine Pivotal trial, testing non-inferiority vs Comirnaty in booster setting, to start H1 2022.  NCT05329220
VE = vaccine efficacy. *No ph3 placebo-controlled study has been conducted with VLA2001. In Cov-Compare the project showed significantly higher levels of neutralising antibodies than Astra’s vaccine, and similar rates of seroconversion. Source: Evaluate Pharma, company statements,

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