The Institut Pasteur announced on January 25 that it was halting the development of its main Covid vaccine project. The first tests have indeed shown that it was less effective than hoped.

“The immune responses induced were found to be lower than those observed in people cured of a natural infection as well as those observed with authorized vaccines” against Covid-19, explained the Institute to justify its decision to terminate to his project.

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A collaboration with MSD

Pasteur’s vaccine used as a base the measles vaccine, adapted to fight Covid-19.

To design and distribute it, the French research institute had joined forces with the MSD pharmaceutical laboratory (name of the American group Merck outside the United States and Canada).

MSD had in fact bought last year the Austrian biotechnology company Themis, with which Pasteur has been working for several years on the development of various vaccines, including that against Covid-19.

Other projects still in the running

Phase 1 trials (the first stage of human trials) began last August. Pasteur said he was continuing his work on other vaccine projects against Covid, at a preliminary stage, however.

“The first, which can be administered via the nasal route, is being developed with the biotechnology company TheraVectys, a member of the Institut Pasteur and specializing in the development of vaccines. The second is a DNA vaccine candidate,” said Pasteur. These two projects “are now in the preclinical phase”, that is to say that no trial has yet been carried out on humans.

Measles vaccine

In addition, this stop “does not call into question the continuation of other vaccine research projects carried out in partnership with Themis / Merck-MSD”, based on the measles vaccine, says Pasteur.

According to the Institute, research is underway to use this technology against other infectious diseases (Lassa fever, chikungunya).