US promises $2.1 billion for Sanofi, GSK coronavirus vaccine

By: Agence France Presse - Agence France-Presse/Inquirer.net | July 31,2020 - 08:46 PM

FILE PHOTO — A lab technician wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) takes reagent bottles to perform vaccine tests at a French pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s laboratory in Val de Reuil on July 10, 2020. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK are to receive up to $2.1 billion from the US government for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the companies said Friday, as the world continues to be ravaged by the coronavirus epidemic.

The United States had identified a vaccine candidate under investigation by Sanofi and GSK for its “Operation Warp Speed,” which aims to speedily secure millions of doses of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

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

The American money, it added, will “help fund the development activities and secure scale-up of Sanofi’s and GSK’s manufacturing capabilities in the United States for the recombinant protein-based, adjuvanted vaccine, resulting in a significant increase in capacity.”

In April, Sanofi and GSK announced they were joining forces on a COVID-19 vaccine they hoped to have in clinical trials this year, potentially making it available in the second half of 2021.

On Friday, they said there were also discussions with the European Commission and other governments “to ensure global access to a novel coronavirus vaccine.”

Alex Azar of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the portfolio of vaccines being assembled under Operation Warp Speed “increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year.”

“Today’s investment supports the Sanofi and GSK adjuvanted product all the way through clinical trials and manufacturing, with the potential to bring hundreds of millions of safe and effective doses to the American people,” the statement quoted him as saying.

“The global need for a vaccine to help prevent COVID-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone,” added Thomas Triomphe, the head of Sanofi Pasteur, the company’s vaccine division.

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