A couple of weeks ago, WHO released a notification which mentioned 67 vaccine trials are in preclinical evaluation while 3 are being clinically evaluated for the novel coronavirus. This information clearly suggests that the world is zooming ahead to find a vaccine for the pandemic, which is adversely affecting our daily lives.
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The vaccine discovery effort has now received a huge boost as two of the world’s largest Europe-based pharma companies have announced a partnership to hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have announced that they are working together to develop a coronavirus vaccine and potential vaccine trials on humans are scheduled later this year.
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline announce partnership to develop coronavirus vaccine
The partnership of the two Europe-based pharma giants doesn’t come as a surprise. They both bring decades of vaccine development experience to the table and together, their market valuation easily crosses $200 billion (€185 billion). Alongside the announcement of their partnership, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) also said that they aim to commence human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine later this year, which could be ready for the masses by the second half of 2021. The companies didn’t disclose any financial details of their partnership.
“As the world’s leading vaccine manufacturer, our No. 1 focus is to help to develop a vaccine,” GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley told the media. “This is, of course, core to the exit plan that the world needs.” Walmsley further added, “Both companies bring significant manufacturing capacity. While we have a lot of work to do, given that this is in an early stage of development, we believe that if we’re successful, we’ll be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year.”
Sanofi will use an antigen, GSK to provide adjuvant
Sanofi and GSK also revealed how their partnership could lead to the development of a vaccine. Sanofi will use an antigen targeting the coronavirus’ signature spike protein, which are the crowns of bulbous projections that give the coronavirus its signature shape. GSK will provide an adjuvant, which is a pharmacological or immunological agent that can be added to a vaccine for boosting one’s immune response to it and producing more antibodies. This adjuvant can reduce the amount of vaccine needed per dose.
As per a report by the Business Insider, The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has partially funded Sanofi’s vaccine research. BARDA Director Rick Bright said in a statement that this collaboration “holds the potential to lower the vaccine dose to provide vaccine to a greater number of people to end this pandemic, and help the world become better prepared or even prevent future coronavirus outbreaks.”
GSK executives said that even with the pooled resources of the two giant pharma companies, there would most likely be need for multiple vaccines to meet the unprecedented global demand for a coronavirus vaccine.
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