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Britain closes in on £500m COVID-19 vaccine deal with Sanofi/GSK

Alleged deal could include agreement for 60 million doses

Coronavirus vaccine

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline look set to agree a £500m deal with Britain for the supply of 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report from the Sunday Times.

Last month, French drugmaker Sanofi said that it expects to start clinical testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in September, several months earlier than planned. The company added that it could have the vaccine ready for emergency use by as early as January.

According to the Sunday Times report, Britain is considering agreeing an option to buy the vaccine if it proves effective in human trials, and would pay the £500m total in stages.

Sanofi is investigating two vaccine candidates, one of which uses GSK’s AS03 adjuvant and is based on Sanofi’s baculovirus expression system, already used in its quadrivalent flu vaccine. The other candidate, which Sanofi is developing with Translate Bio, leverages mRNA technology against the novel coronavirus disease.

The Sanofi/GSK deal would be the second such deal Britain has made for the assured supply of a potential coronavirus vaccine, following a similar deal made with AstraZeneca for access to Oxford University’s candidate.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s business ministry said that "the Government's Vaccines Task Force is actively engaging with a wide range of companies both in the UK and abroad to negotiate access to vaccines”, although she did not confirm if GSK and Sanofi were involved in these negotiations.

In April, the UK government set out its plans for a new coronavirus vaccine task force, which was created to support efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine by providing industry and research institutions the resources and support they need.

Governments across the world are scrambling to agree deals for potential vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 as confirmed cases and deaths continuing to climb. Concerns have been raised that these deals could inhibit equitable access to transformative treatments, allowing high-income countries to secure supplies of potential therapeutics while preventing low-income countries from doing so.

One such agreement, between the US government and Gilead for the majority of the supply of the latter’s antiviral drug remdesivir, has exacerbated these worries. According to the New York Times, remdesivir will be sold only in the US until September, meaning that American patients will receive almost the entirety of Gilead’s output of the drug.

However, other initiatives, including the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, are focusing on 'equitable distribution of the tests, treatments and vaccines the world needs to reduce mortality and severe disease'. The accelerator is jointly led and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO and the World Bank.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

6th July 2020

From: Regulatory



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