The UK government has signed a fourth coronavirus vaccine deal, securing up to 60 million doses of an experimental treatment being developed by drug giants GSK and Sanofi.
The government has already signed up for 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca.
It has also secured another 90 million doses of two other promising vaccines.
However, it is still uncertain which, if any, of the vaccines may work.
Governments around the world have pledged billions of dollars for a Covid-19 vaccine and a number of pharmaceutical firms are in a race to develop and test potential drugs.
Sanofi and GSK
The vaccine involved in the latest government deal, developed by Sanofi in partnership with GSK, is based on the recombinant protein-based technology used by Sanofi to produce a flu vaccine, as well as GSK’s established pandemic technology.
Sanofi, which is leading the clinical development, said regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021 if trials were successful.
In the meantime, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing to produce up to one billion doses a year overall.
The vaccine has already been at the centre of an international political storm after Sanofi rowed back on an apparent promise to prioritise the US market.
Sanofi chief executive Paul Hudson sparked a row in May by saying the US government had “the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk”.
But he changed his view after then French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe responded by saying access for all was “non-negotiable”.
In their latest announcement, GSK and Sanofi stressed that they were “committed to making the vaccine available globally”.
The partnership between Sanofi-GSK
With our partner GSK, we are pleased to co-operate with the UK government as well as several other countries and global organisations as part of our ongoing efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine and make it available as quickly as possible,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice-president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur.
Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, added: “We thank the UK government for confirmation of purchasing intent, which supports the significant investment we are already making as a company to scale up development and production of this vaccine.”
UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “It is important that we secure early access to a diverse range of promising vaccine candidates, like GSK and Sanofi, to increase our chances of finding one that works, so we can protect the public and save lives.”
In addition to the recombinant protein-based vaccine in collaboration with GSK, Sanofi is also developing a messenger RNA vaccine candidate in partnership with Translate Bio. With several innovative vaccine platforms currently being investigated across the industry, mRNA is considered among the most promising.
Sanofi expects a Phase 1 study to start by the end of the year, and, if the data are positive, an approval at the earliest in the second half of 2021. Translate Bio has established mRNA manufacturing capacity and Sanofi expects to be able to supply annual capacity of 90 to 360 million doses.
Kate Bingham, who chairs the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce, said: “This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, if any, of the different types of vaccine will prove to generate a safe and protective response to Covid-19.
“Whilst this agreement is very good news, we mustn’t be complacent or over-optimistic.”
About GSK – official
We have 3 global businesses that research, develop and manufacture innovative pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products.
Our goal is to be one of the world’s most innovative, best performing and trusted healthcare companies.
Our values and expectations are at the heart of everything we do and help define our culture – so that together we can deliver extraordinary things for our patients and consumers and make GSK a brilliant place to work.
Our values are Patient focus, Transparency, Respect, Integrity.
Our expectations are Courage, Accountability, Development, Teamwork.
Everyone at GSK is focused on 3 priorities – Innovation, Performance, Trust
About Sanofi – official
Sanofi S.A. is a French multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France, as of 2013 the world’s fifth-largest by prescription sales. Originally, the company was formed in 1973 and the current incarnation was formed as Sanofi-Aventis in 2004, by the merger of Aventis and Sanofi-Synthélabo, which were each the product of several previous mergers. It changed its name to Sanofi in May 2011. The company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index.
Sanofi engages in the research and development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs principally in the prescription market, but the firm also develops over-the-counter medication. The company covers seven major therapeutic areas: cardiovascular, central nervous system, diabetes, internal medicine, oncology, thrombosis and vaccines (it is the world’s largest producer of the latter through its subsidiary Sanofi Pasteur).
Also Read : News Highlights From July 2020