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Sanofi accelerates coronavirus vaccine plans

Company will start clinical testing in September, several months earlier than planned

Sanofi

Sanofi says it will start clinical testing of its experimental coronavirus in September, several months earlier than planned, and could have the vaccine ready for emergency use in January.

The new timeline was revealed during an R&D update yesterday during which the French drugmaker also said it has the capacity to make a billion doses of the vaccine each year.

The phase 1/2 trial of the recombinant protein-based vaccine – which uses GlaxoSmithKline’s AS03 adjuvant and is based on Sanofi’s baculovirus expression system already used in its quadrivalent flu vaccine – could get “full approval by the first half of 2021”, according to the company.

The new schedule suggests a dramatic acceleration from Sanofi’s initial timeframe for the project when it was announced back in February, which started out with the objective of clinical trials starting in 2021.

Since then, pharma companies and academic groups have started testing more than a dozen different COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and Sanofi – whose Sanofi Pasteur unit is one of the top vaccine companies worldwide – was in danger of falling far behind.

Sanofi’s GSK-partnered candidate – as well as another mRNA vaccine in development with Translate Bio – was omitted from the Trump administration’s short-list of leading vaccine candidates that could potentially be ready for roll-out later this year or early in 2021.

The short-list in Trump’s Operation Warp Speed includes vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Oxford University and AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Merck & Co.

Just this week, another vaccine joined the list of those that have already advanced into clinical testing, after Imperial College London dosed the first healthy volunteer with its vaccine based on self-amplifying RNA (saRNA), known as LNP-nCoVsaRNA.

Meanwhile, the authorities in China have just approved the first clinical trials of an adjuvanted recombinant protein coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products.

Sanofi insists that faster is not always better in vaccine development. and that its ‘slow but steady’ approach actually means it has a greater chance of success than other players in the coronavirus vaccine field.

“We're the only vaccine in the race that's off a proven platform that works at scale," said Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson as part of an update on the company’s R&D priorities.

Article by
Phil Taylor

24th June 2020

From: Research

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