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The EU is looking for ways to secure more jabs as coronavirus mutations spread across the bloc.
The German pharmaceutical company CureVac said on Friday that it had begun submitting data to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as part of the rolling review of its COVID-19 vaccine.
The company, based in the southern German town of Tübingen, is still conducting clinical trials, but the real-time review process means that the agency can observe data piecemeal as it is released. It is hoped that this will shorten the amount of time necessary for the regulator to reach a decision on approval.
CureVac's jab used the same mRNA technology as the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, which is also produced in Germany, and the US-made Moderna vaccine.
Trials of the vaccine on healthy adults are currently taking place in Europe and Latin America. The mass testing began in December and the company hopes to have results from the study by March or April.
The EMA based its decision to start the review of the CureVac vaccine on preliminary results from laboratory studies and early clinical trials.
A statement on the EMA's website said that: "These studies suggest that the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies and immune cells that target SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID‑19."
So far the EU has authorized the use of three vaccines — those from BioNTech-Pfizer, Oxford University-AstraZeneca and Moderna. All were approved based on rolling reviews.
The EU has come under heavy criticism for the slow rollout of vaccination programs across the block. The CureVac jab is expected to alleviate some of the problems as the continent sees a surge in infections.
CureVac is also working alongside the British company GSK to develop another vaccine that could target several of the COVID-19 variants with just one shot.
The German company grabbed global headlines in March of last year when then US president, Donald Trump, attempted to secure exclusive access to its vaccines for the US.
The company was quick to reject any notions that it was selling its technology.
ab/dj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)