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200M Covid-19 Vaccine Doses Donated to Int’l Effort

Vaccine vials

(ulleo, Needpix)

28 Oct. 2020. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are offering 200 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine for a project devoted to making vaccines equitably available worldwide. The Covid-19 vaccine developed by drug makers Sanofi, in Paris, and London-based GSK is currently in an early- and mid-stage clinical trial that began in September, and is not yet approved by regulatory authorities.

Sanofi and GSK will donate their vaccine doses, once they’re approved, to the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access, or Covax facility backed by World Health Organization, European Union, and non-government organizations to provide worldwide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. A group called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is the Covax facility designer and coordinator, which signed the agreement today with Sanofi and GSK.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, an early funder of several Covid-19 vaccines, is also a major partner in the Covax facility, which has financial support from 92 countries. Those contributions will support vaccine distribution to another 92 countries in lower resource regions. On 1 September, however, the U.S. announced it would not take part in Covax.

The joint vaccine uses an engineered protein from Sanofi Pasteur, the company’s vaccine division, extending a technology employed for its influenza vaccine. GSK is providing an adjuvant for the vaccine, which the company says can reduce the amount of vaccine needed per dose, allowing for faster large-scale manufacturing and distribution.

In July, the companies received $2.1 billion from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and Department of Defense for support of clinical trials and an initial 100 million doses of the vaccine in the U.S. The agencies have an option under the deal to acquire an additional 500 million doses later on.

As reported by Science & Enterprise in September, the two companies are conducting a clinical trial of the vaccine with 440 participants now at 10 sites in the U.S. The trial first tested the vaccine for immediate adverse effects in a group of six participants age 18 to 49. With initial safety criteria met, the study team is recruiting the rest of the sample. That sample is stratified in groups of age 18 to 49, and 50 and over. Across these groups, the trial is testing combinations of the vaccine and adjuvants against a placebo.

Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, says in a statement, “Since we started working on the development of Covid-19 vaccines, GSK has pledged to make them available to people around the world.” Thomas Triomphe, head of Sanofi Pasteur adds, “The commitment we are announcing today for the Covax facility can help us together stand a better chance of bringing the pandemic under control.”

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