GSK and Sanofi on Wednesday said they had signed a deal with Gavi, the global vaccine project founded by Bill & Melinda Gates. Gavi has signed a non-binding statement of intent to buy 200m doses of a vaccine candidate currently in development.
Gavi struck the deal under its COVAX Facility, a transnational effort to help countries share the risk of buying experimental vaccine candidates and to ensure fair distribution once a successful vaccine is discovered. Over 180 nations across the world have signed up to the project.
Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said in a statement: “Gavi is seeking to secure doses of the most promising vaccine candidates – so that the 184 participants involved in the COVAX Facility can make sure their most at-risk groups, such as healthcare workers, have rapid access to doses of a safe and effective vaccine.
“That is the world’s best chance to end the acute stage of this pandemic, and we encourage other vaccine manufacturers to work with us towards that shared global goal.”
Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur, said the Gavi deal “ensures our COVID-19 vaccines are affordable and accessible to those most at risk, everywhere in the world.”
Financial terms weren’t disclosed. A spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline said pricing discussions were “ongoing” but said the companies would offer “tiered” pricing, whereby poorer countries pay less than richer ones for the vaccine.
“Since we started working on the development of COVID-19 vaccines, GSK has pledged to make them available to people around the world,” Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, said in a statement.
“We are proud to be working with Sanofi to make this adjuvanted recombinant protein-based vaccine available to the countries signed up to the COVAX Facility as soon as possible - this has the potential to be a significant contribution to the global fight against COVID-19.”
Shares in Sanofi fell 0.9% in Paris on Wednesday, while GSK dropped 0.4% in London. The dip came amid a broader, steep sell-off of stocks across Europe, driven by concerns about the COVID-19 second wave.
A phase 1/2 study of the joint Sanofi-GSK vaccine began in early September involving 440 participants. Early results are expected by December and the companies hope to start Phase 3 trials by the end of the year. If all goes to plan, the drugmakers could apply for regulatory approval of the vaccine in the first half of next year. Sanofi and GSK are scaling up production capabilities in anticipation.
Earlier this year, Sanofi and GSK signed separate deals with the EU, US, and UK to supply a total of 460m doses of the experimental vaccine. Last month, the pair signed a deal with Canada to supply 72m doses.
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