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GSK chief exec ‘optimistic’ COVID-19 vaccine could be available next year

GSK is currently partnering with Sanofi on a COVID-19 vaccine project

GlaxoSmithKline’s chief executive officer Emma Walmsley (pictured above) is ‘optimistic’ that a vaccine against COVID-19 will be widely available in 2021.

Speaking at the third annual Helen Alexander Memorial Lecture – an online event of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – Walmsley said she “share(s) the optimism that we will have solutions (for COVID-19) next year”.

“The challenge here is getting to the scale that is required. Lots of progress has also been made for therapeutics,” she added.

GSK is currently partnering with French pharma Sanofi on a COVID-19 vaccine project, where it is supplying an adjuvant to be used in combination with Sanofi’s recombinant protein-based vaccine candidate.

Adjuvants are particularly useful in a pandemic setting as they boost the efficacy of vaccine candidate, thereby reducing the amount needed per dose. Novavax, which recently initiated a phase 2 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, is also using an adjuvant to bolster the effect of its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine.

Vaccine developers have been moving at unprecedented speed in an effort to develop a successful vaccine targeting SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

However, this speed – while impressive given the current pandemic conditions – has raised concerns among experts, especially with regard to ensuring the safety of any potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this week, a group of leading researchers and bioethicists signed a letter urging Pfizer to delay submitting a marketing authorisation for its candidate. Pfizer is reportedly expecting phase 3 efficacy data from its BioNTech-partnered mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine in October,

They urged the companies to delay the filing until after they had monitored participants for at least another two months after they have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, to ensure the vaccine is safe to use in the long term.

'To be successful, the public needs to have the utmost trust in the vaccine and the science behind it,' the letter said.

'Submission of an application for an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) before this standard is met would severely erode public trust and set back efforts to achieve widespread vaccination,' the letter added.

Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla, along with GSK’s Walmsley, was among nine top pharma and biotech chiefs to sign a pledge promising to uphold rigorous safety and efficacy protocols for their respective vaccine candidates.

The leaders of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, BioNTech and Sanofi also signed the pledge in an effort to mitigate some of the concerns around the safety and efficacy standards of their potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

30th September 2020

From: Research

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