Haverhill could become a key location for the development and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine
Pharmaceuticals giants, Sanofi, which has a production facility in Haverhill, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have together reached an agreement to supply the UK government with up to 60 million doses of a covid-19 vaccine.
Sanofi and GSK are working in partnership to develop the vaccine, which is based on the recombinant protein-based technology used by Sanofi to produce an influenza vaccine, and GSK’s established pandemic adjuvant technology.
Just what level of involvement Sanofi's Haverhill site in Rookwood Way (which is the company's only UK-based facility) will have with the production and distribution of the vaccine is not yet clear, a spokeswoman for the global drug producer has confirmed.
Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur., said: “With our partner GSK, we are pleased to co-operate with the UK government as well as several other countries and global organizations as part of our ongoing efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine and make it available as quickly as possible.
"We greatly appreciate the UK government’s support of this shared vision.”
Sanofi is leading the clinical development and registration of the COVID-19 vaccine and expects a phase 1/2 study to start in September, followed by a phase 3 study by the end of 2020.
If the data are positive, regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021.
In parallel, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing of the antigen and adjuvant to produce up to one billion doses per year overall.
UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Our scientists and researchers are
racing to find a safe and effective vaccine at a speed and scale never seen
"While this progress is truly remarkable, the fact remains that there are no guarantees.”
“In the meantime, it is important that we secure early access to a diverse range of promising vaccine candidates, like GSK and Sanofi, to increase our chances of finding one that works so we can protect the public and save lives.”
Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Government’s Vaccines Taskforce, said: "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.
“This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, ifany, of the different types of vaccine will prove to generate a safe and protective response to COVID-19.
"Whilst this agreement is very good news, we mustn’t be complacent or over optimistic.”
“The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.”
Active discussions on supply of the vaccine are ongoing with global organizations, the U.S. and the EU Commission, with France and Italy on the negotiation team.
The partnersplan to provide a significant portion of total worldwide available supply capacity in 2021/22 to the global initiative, “Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator”, a global collaboration of leaders of governments, global health organizations, businesses and philanthropies to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
More by this authorSteve Barton
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