Three months after joining forces to develop an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline reached an agreement with the U.K. government to provide up to 60 million doses of the preventative medication.
The two companies announced the agreement this morning. The vaccine under development uses Sanofi’s recombinant protein-based technology used by the French company to develop an influenza vaccine combined with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant system.
Thomas Triomphe, Global Head of Sanofi Pasteur, said the two companies are pleased to have established this agreement with the U.K. government, as well as the other governments the companies have struck deals with. Governments across the globe are forging agreements with vaccine makers in hopes of securing enough doses to inoculate their populations against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Earlier this month, the government of the United Kingdom signed a deal with vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech and Valneva for 90 million doses of those experimental vaccines. The government also has an agreement with AstraZeneca for 100 million doses of the vaccine it is developing alongside Oxford University. Since its discovery in the late part of 2019, more than 16 million people across the globe have been confirmed with infections and it is likely millions of more infections have gone undetected in asymptomatic people.
Kate Bingham, chair of the U.K.’s Vaccines Taskforce, said through the agreement with GSK and Sanofi, the Vaccine Taskforce can add another type of vaccine to the three different types of vaccine it has already secured.
“This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, if any, of the different types of vaccines 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,” Bingham said in a statement. “In the meantime, 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.”
Early data from vaccine programs under development by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna have yielded positive results. Those companies are set to enter Phase III studies and the world waits with anticipation and hope that the data continues to be positive through the end of those studies.
Sanofi and GSK struck their vaccine development partnership in April. The companies anticipate a Phase I/II study to begin in the late summer followed by a potential Phase III study that could begin by the end of 2020. If the data are positive, regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021. In parallel, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing of the antigen and adjuvant to produce up to one billion doses per year overall.
“We believe that this adjuvanted vaccine candidate has the potential to play a significant role in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the UK and around the world. 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,” Roger Connor, president of GSK vaccines said in a statement.
Both companies are committed to making their COVID-19 vaccine candidate affordable and available globally.
The companies plan to provide a significant portion of total worldwide available supply capacity to “Access to COVID‐19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator,” a global initiative tasked with providing equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.