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Join Forces: Sanofi and GSK working on COVID-19 Vaccine

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, two of the popular vaccine creator, are teaming up for coronavirus vaccine.

The two world’s biggest vaccine players, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline joined forces to work on a coronavirus vaccine despite being competitors, but the COVID-19 pandemic has now made them partners.

The vaccine will combine a Sanofi-developed antigen, which stimulates the production of germ-killing antibodies, with GSK’s adjuvant technology, a substance that boosts the immune response triggered by a vaccine, they said in a statement.

The companies are joining forces to work on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. They aim to start human testing in the second half of this year, and if all goes well, to file for potential approvals by the second half of 2021.

“The companies plan to initiate phase I clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful, subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021,” they said.

“As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone,” added Sanofi’s chief executive Paul Hudson.

They’re also planning to build manufacturing capacity “at-risk”—essentially, plowing money and resources into scaling up production even before a vaccine proves itself, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said on a Tuesday morning conference call.

Because of GSK and Sanofi’s “combined scale,” the partners could deliver hundreds of millions of doses annually, starting next year, Walmsley said. That heft is one of the big advantages for the partnership, she added.

The companies have already signed a letter of intent and will share each other’s technology for the potential shot. Sanofi is chipping in an S-protein COVID-19 antigen based on recombinant DNA tech, while GSK is contributing its “proven pandemic adjuvant technology,” according to a release.

Adjuvants allow vaccines to protect recipients with less vaccine protein per dose, meaning manufacturers can make more doses to ultimately protect more people. That’s a critical factor during an evolving pandemic, where a successful vaccine would need to be deployed quickly and widely. 

BARDA Director Rick Bright said the development of an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine promised: “to end this pandemic and help the world become better prepared or even prevent future coronavirus outbreaks.”

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