United Kingdom signs supply deal with Sanofi, GSK for virus vaccine

Henrietta Brewer
July 31, 2020

Given that there will be limited initial supplies of any successful COVID-19 vaccine, we need to ensure that priority populations such as healthcare workers around the world get access first.

Human medical scientific tests of the vaccine will start in September followed by a section 3 research in December. If all goes to plan in these studies, Sanofi/GSK hope to achieve regulatory approval by the first half of 2021.

British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma, quoted in the statement, hailed the progress, but said that "the fact remains that there are no guarantees".

"In the meantime, it is crucial that we safe early entry to a various selection of promising vaccine candidates, like GSK and Sanofi, to enhance our likelihood of finding a single that will work so we can protect the general public and help save life".

The latest deal marks the fourth vaccine arrangement signed by the British government, but what other deals have been agreed and will it be possible to get a vaccine by Christmas?

A major portion of the aggregate global supply of the vaccine is thus likely to be entitled to the ACT (Access to COVID‐19 Tools) Accelerator, which is a global initiative by leading governments, health organizations, and philanthropies around the world to speed up the development of effective COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

Britain previously secured access to 30 million doses of the experimental BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, and another deal for 60 million doses of the potential Valneva vaccine.

Sanofi and GSK announced a collaboration earlier this year to work on developing a vaccine for Covid-19.

Through this agreement with GSK and Sanofi, the Vaccine Taskforce can add another type of vaccine to the three different types of vaccine we have already secured.

Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the Government's Vaccines Taskforce, explained: "This diversity of vaccine types is critical because we do not however know which, if any, of the various forms of vaccine will prove to create a secure and protective response to Covid-19. We greatly appreciate the United Kingdom government's support of this shared vision", said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head, Sanofi Pasteur.

"Whilst this agreement is very good news, we mustn't be complacent or over-optimistic".

The companies are also in talks to sell the vaccine to the USA, the European Union and global organizations, Sanofi said.

"The government should be using its investments in Covid-19 vaccine research and development to make sure that everyone gets fair and affordable access to a vaccine, instead of sparking a race that patients will lose as big pharma profit". Pfizer and BioNTech last week reached a roughly $2 billion deal to supply their coronavirus vaccine to the U.S.

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