Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline aren’t the front-runners in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, but execs for the companies have said they expect to play an important role in the global vaccination push. Now, the partners are backing that up with an agreement to provide 200 million doses of their vaccine to COVAX, a global effort to develop, produce and equitably distribute doses.
COVAX is a global group of governments, health groups, businesses and nonprofits that are aiming to speed coronavirus vaccine research and manufacturing, plus ensure equitable distribution. Established vaccine groups Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, along with the World Health Organization, are co-leading the effort. Funding details for Wednesday’s agreement weren’t released.
As wealthy governments have been placing huge orders for vaccine doses, the group aims to deliver doses to people in all parts of the world once the vaccines are proven.
While Sanofi and GSK aren’t among the companies in late-stage testing, experts have said their proven platform and global capacity make the prominent vaccine companies important players in the long-term COVID-19 vaccination push. Their joint program started phase 1/2 testing in September, and the partners expect to start late-stage testing by the end of the year.
With success in clinical trials, the partners aim to submit the program for approvals in the first half of next year. Simultaneously, the companies are scaling up manufacturing with aim to produce up to 1 billion doses per year.
Aside from their COVAX deal, the partners have inked agreements to provide 300 million doses to the EU and up to 600 million doses to the U.S.
Meanwhile, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax are in late-stage testing with their respective programs. Pfizer and Moderna are advancing vaccines based on novel mRNA technology, and experts say their programs could launch in late 2020 or early 2021.