LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is close to a £ 500 million ($ 624 million) supply agreement with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Sunday Times.
PHOTO FILE: small bottles labeled with “Vaccine” stickers are located near a medical syringe in front of the words “Coronavirus COVID-19” displayed in this illustration taken on April 10, 2020. REUTER / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Photo File
Clinical trials are expected to begin in September and Sanofi (SASY.PA) said it plans to get approved by the first half of next year, earlier than previously expected.
More than 100 vaccines have been developed and tested worldwide to stop the COVID-19 pandemic and governments are rushing to ensure the supply of vaccines even before their efficacy is proven.
A supply agreement with Sanofi and GSK would be Britain’s second agreement after stating that it would purchase 100 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine.
Sanofi was not immediately available to comment while a GSK spokesman (GSK.L) declined to comment. Both claimed to prioritize quality over speed in developing a vaccine.
“The government’s Vaccine Task Force is actively engaging with a wide range of companies both in the UK and abroad to negotiate access to vaccines,” said a spokesman for the British ministry of affairs, without confirming whether Sanofi or GSK were among them.
The Sunday Times report said that Britain was considering buying an option to buy the vaccine if it worked in human studies and that it would see the amount paid in stages.
Sanofi is working on two possible COVID-19 vaccines, one of which uses an adjuvant produced by GSK to potentially enhance its effectiveness and has claimed to have the ability to produce up to 1 billion doses per year.
Its timeline for clinical studies is the basis of the likes of Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) and an alliance of BioNTech (BNTX.O) and Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), whose projects have all conquered titles by moving to human trials as early as March.
Sanofi received financial support from the United States and caused a stir at its home base in France after British CEO Paul Hudson reported that Europe was too slow to support work on a vaccine, suggesting to US patients that they could get any vaccine that develops first.
The EU is also seeking an agreement with Sanofi and has called on Britain to join its efforts to buy vaccines for the blockade.
Alistair Smout’s reports in London, Josephine Mason’s additional reports in London and Michel Rose and Caroline Pailliez in Paris; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Alexander Smith