United Kingdom signs supply deal with Sanofi, GSK for virus vaccine

Marco Green
July 31, 2020

Britain has signed a deal for up to 60 million doses of a possible Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, it said today, its fourth such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic heats up.

The vaccine candidate, developed by Sanofi in partnership with GSK, is based on the recombinant protein-based technology used by Sanofi to produce an influenza vaccine, and GSK's established pandemic adjuvant technology.

The deal ensures early access to the COVID-19 vaccine if it proves effective in clinical trials, with the first doses going to priority groups, including frontline health and social care workers.

Public health and social justice organisations have warned that the government's latest deal to secure advanced supplies of potential Covid-19 vaccines for the United Kingdom will fuel the global scramble to hoard vaccines by rich countries.

Two sources told Reuters that negotiations stalled because the company wanted to secure an upfront payment for the entire stock while the European Union would rather delay payments until the vaccine has passed large clinical trials.

"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".

The companies are also in talks to sell the vaccine to the US, the European Union and global organizations, Sanofi said. 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.

Sanofi on Wednesday raised its profit outlook for the year as some of its key drugs offset Covid-19 disruption, while Glaxo said its 2020 earnings forecast is at risk if routine vaccination rates fail to recover after lockdowns.

The Government has stressed the importance of investing in a broad range of vaccines, to improve the chances of a successful outcome.

A major portion of the aggregate global supply of the vaccine is thus likely to be entitled to the ACT (Access to COVID‐19 Tools) Accelerator, which is a global initiative by leading governments, health organizations, and philanthropies around the world to speed up the development of effective COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

"While this is good news, we don't have to be optimistic", added Bingham. If all goes to plan in these studies, Sanofi/GSK hope to achieve regulatory approval by the first half of 2021.

The government in London has also said that it would purchase 100 million doses of a vaccine being trialed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca PLC. Both companies are allegedly intent on making their vaccine affordable and available to people worldwide.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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