GlaxoSmithKline & Sanofi Team Up To Develop COVID-19 Vaccine
Emma Walmsley discusses GSK’s new collaboration with Sanofi to develop a adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine.

Two of the largest vaccines companies in the world, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi, are teaming up to hasten vaccine development for COVID-19.

“By combining our science and our technologies, we believe we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19”, said Emma Walmsley, chief executive officer of GSK, in a joint Sanofi-GSK press release on Tuesday.

“One of the important things in this collaboration is our combined scale. Both companies have significant manufacturing capacity,” Walmsley added in a separate video message.

“We still have a lot of work to do since this is still at an early stage of development. We believe that if successful, we’ll be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year,” she said.

The collaboration was applauded by industry representatives as well. 

“Today’s announcement is an illustration of the biopharmaceutical industry’s strong sense of responsibility to act together and live up to its COVID-19 commitments, which include working in a concerted manner to increase industry’s manufacturing capabilities and willingly share available capacity to ramp up production once a successful vaccine or treatment is developed”, said Thomas Cueni , Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) told Health Policy Watch.

The recent alliance aims to combine Sanofi’s protein-based vaccine with GSK’s adjuvant technology. Adjuvants are commonly added to protein-based vaccines to boost the immune response to the vaccine, allowing the vaccine to be more effective at lower doses. This makes the vaccine easier to mass produce. 

The companies have entered into a Material Transfer Agreement to enable them to start working together immediately. Definitive terms of the collaboration are expected to be finalised over the next few weeks.

If the new vaccine candidate is successful in Phase 1 Clinical Trials planned for late 2020, it will be available in the first 6 months of 2021, says the joint Sanofi-GSK press release.

The companies have established a Joint Collaboration Task Force for the project, co-chaired by David Loew, Global Head of Vaccines, Sanofi and Roger Connor, President Vaccines, GSK. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an arm of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has already committed to funding part of the Sanofi vaccine’s development.

Image Credits: Heather Hazzan, GSK.

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