(Adds comment from CureVac in fifth paragraph)
ZURICH, March 23 (Reuters) - German drugmaker CureVac this week established a Swiss business unit, official records show, a precursor to seeking approval from national drugs regulator Swissmedic for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
CureVac Swiss AG was established on Monday in Basel, home of big drugmakers including Roche and Novartis, according to the city of Basel’s commercial registry. A business must be in the commercial registry as a condition of applying for a licence for a medicinal product from Swissmedic.
“The company aims to research, develop and market biotechnological products,” said a description of CureVac’s purpose in setting up the unit.
CureVac has yet to formally apply for approval for its mRNA vaccine candidate, a Swissmedic spokesman said, though the company is gearing up to do so.
“Concerning a potential application ... we are currently in discussions with Swissmedic,” a spokesman said in an email.
Switzerland - which to date has approved COVID-19 shots from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson but has said it needs more information from AstraZeneca to bless its vaccine - has placed orders for five million doses of CureVac’s vaccine.
Europe began a real-time review of CureVac’s vaccine in February, and the company has said data from trials could come in March or April. (Reporting by John Miller. Editing by Michael Shields and Mark Potter)