Arcturus CEO says in talks with a dozen countries for COVID-19 vaccine supply deals

FILE PHOTO: A scientist at RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics research a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at a laboratory in San Diego

(Reuters) – Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc is in discussions with about a dozen countries for supply deals of its coronavirus vaccine that is currently in early human testing, the company’s chief executive officer told Reuters on Thursday.

The U.S.-based company is talking to some countries in Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia, as well as with several U.S. government agencies, CEO Joseph Payne said in an interview.

There are “approximately a dozen countries that we’re in conversations with,” Payne said.

Arcturus recently began testing its vaccine in humans in an early-to-mid stage study, lagging rivals such as Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc, that have begun late-stage trials of their experimental coronavirus vaccines.

The company on Tuesday signed a supply agreement with Israel for delivery of an initial 1 million doses, with the potential to buy additional doses — a deal that could eventually be worth $275 million, pending regulatory approval.

The company has also received $10 million from the Singapore government to develop its vaccine, access to which could go to the country first if the vaccine is approved.

The negotiations with other countries are focused on two “levers”, Payne said: the number of doses involved and clinical trial support.

“If there is a substantial number of doses, that is a lever of negotiation,” he said.

The other pertains to offering support to clinical trials of the vaccine, which was administered to a first group of participants in the early-to-mid-stage trial last week that is occurring in Singapore.

“Some countries may lend support and help us fund or even support the clinical trial itself,” Payne said. “And if they do that, we’re willing to consider a discount on the vaccine as well.”

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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