RACING AGAINST TIME

Giant pharma companies join search for Covid-19 vaccine

The combination of a protein-based antigen together with an adjuvant is well-established and used in a number of vaccines available today.

In Summary

•The companies plan to initiate phase I clinical trials in the second half of 2020

•If successful, subject to regulatory considerations they aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Kenya Pharma has appointed George Onyango as the new General Manager effective July 1.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Kenya Pharma has appointed George Onyango as the new General Manager effective July 1.
Image: COURTESY

Leading pharma giants Sanofi and GSK have signed a letter of intent to develop a vaccine for coronavirus using innovative technology from both companies.

Sanofi will contribute its S-protein Covid-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology.

This technology has produced an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus, and the DNA sequence encoding this antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, the basis of Sanofi’s licensed recombinant influenza product in the US.

GSK will contribute its proven pandemic adjuvant technology,  a pharmacological or immunological agent that modifies the effect of other agents.

The use of an adjuvant may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more doses to be produced for more people. 

“As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone.” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said.

“That is why Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with our peers, such as GSK, with the goal to create and supply sufficient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus.”

The combination of a protein-based antigen together with an adjuvant is well-established and used in vaccines.

“This collaboration brings together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies. By combining our scientific expertise, technologies and capabilities, we believe that we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19,” GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said.

The companies plan to initiate phase I clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful, subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021. 

The companies plan to discuss funding support with other governments and global institutions prioritising global access.

“Strategic alliances among vaccine industry leaders are essential to make a coronavirus vaccine available as soon as possible,” BARDA director Rick Bright said.

The companies have set up a Joint task force co-chaired by David Loew, Global head of Vaccines, Sanofi and Roger Connor, president Vaccines, GSK.

The task force will seek to mobilise resources from both companies  to accelerate the development of the vaccine.

GSK is the leading manufacturer of vaccines globally while Sanofi is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on prevention of illness with vaccines and provides innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering among those who suffer from rare diseases and long-term chronic conditions.

Edited by E.Kibii