French drugmaker Sanofi SA and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) aims to make 200 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate available to the vaccine allocation plan, COVAX.
The GAVI Vaccines Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparation Innovations (CEPI) lead the COVAX initiative. It is intended to prevent national governments from hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and to concentrate on vaccinating the most high-risk individuals in each nation first.
By the end of 2021, COVAX plans to produce 2 billion vaccine doses worldwide and over 180 nations have joined the initiative. China had joined the program only recently while the US and Russia continue to stay away from it.
The companies said they have signed a statement of intent with the vaccine alliance GAVI, which is organizing the global initiative.
Countries are rushing to reach agreements with drugmakers to reserve stocks of experimental coronavirus vaccines and the United States and the United Kingdom lead the way in this effort.
A $2.1 billion contract with the US to supply it with more than 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate has already been signed by GSK-Sanofi. The companies have agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom as well.
The first results of the early mid-stage test of the Sanofi-GSK vaccine are expected at the beginning of December 2020 and the companies are preparing to apply for regulatory approval in 2021.
Similar to one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccinations, the new COVID-19 vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology. It will be combined with an adjuvant, a material that serves as a vaccine booster. This adjuvant is made by GSK.
The novel coronavirus has infected 44 million people globally and have led to the death of many too. But experts say the true toll of the pandemic is much greater than that, due to limited testing, missed mild cases and concealment of cases by some governments.