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CureVac starts review process in Switzerland for COVID-19 vaccine hopeful

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ZURICH, April 19 (Reuters) - Germany's CureVac filed in Switzerland for a rolling review of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic said on Monday, as yet another maker of shots races toward the approval finish line.

Switzerland, which to date has approved COVID-19 shots from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, has placed orders for five million doses of CureVac's vaccine. It is a so-called mRNA vaccine, like those from Moderna and Pfizer that are already on the market.

Such rolling reviews are designed to streamline the approval process, with companies submitting data and information as it comes in to Swissmedic. It's unclear how long the review will take, Swissmedic said, adding that hinges largely on CureVac.

"The duration of the rolling review will depend on the completeness of the data submitted by CureVac and the results of the clinical trials, and cannot therefore be predicted," Swissmedic said.

Although AstraZeneca was the first company to start the review process in Switzerland in early October for its vaccine, regulators have said they still don't have enough information to make a decision on the British company's shot's approval.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis has agreed to help make CureVac's vaccine at a plant in Austria. The German company is aiming to release pivotal data from its clinical trial on the efficacy of its candidate early in the second quarter.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by Louise Heavens)