In recent days, negotiations have been ongoing between pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GSK and the European Commission for the supply of three hundred million doses of a Covid vaccine. These doses will be produced in European Union member countries such as France, Belgium, Germany and Italy.
The vaccine candidate that Sanofi has developed in collaboration with GSK is a product based on recombinant protein technology. This technology was used by Sanofi to develop an influenza vaccine and then on the pandemic adjuvant that GSK developed.
For this contract, the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi is in charge of directing the clinical development as well as the registration of the vaccine. It also plans to start a phase I/II study in September and expects to begin a phase III study by the end of the year.
Once the results of these studies are positive, the vaccine could receive regulatory approval as early as the first half of next year. Sanofi and GSK are currently expanding their adjuvant and antigen production capacity to ensure the manufacture of a total of 1 billion vaccines each year.
According to the European Commission's press release, a reservation of 300 million doses of vaccine has been made with the Sanofi Group for the benefit of the 27 member countries.
According to Thomas Triomphe, Executive Vice President and Global Head of the Sanofi Pasteur pharmaceutical group, this announcement is a guarantee that European populations can expect a vaccine to protect them against coronavirus. Nevertheless, the efficacy and safety of the vaccine would first have to be demonstrated before any adoption.
Along the same lines, Brussels also claims that if the vaccine developed is safe and effective, the contract negotiated with Sanofi will make it readily available to all Member States.
Ursula von del Layer, for her part, explains that although there is no way of knowing which vaccine will be most effective, the EU is investing in a diversified portfolio of promising vaccine projects. For the commission president, this is a way to increase the chances of getting a solution against the virus quickly.
The announcement made by the Commission was welcomed by the French Government. The latter stated that the agreement with Sanofi and GSK will allow all Member States to order the vaccine on favourable terms, if it is sufficiently effective and does not hide side effects.
As a reminder, in June, the European Commission communicated a "vaccine strategy". It is a strategy of signing advance purchase contracts with vaccine manufacturers. Funding for this action plan will be provided by the emergency aid instrument that was set up during the health crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Its aim is to ensure sufficient production of vaccines in the European Union, while enabling all Member States to obtain supplies.