The world’s largest vaccine company, UK-based GSK, plans to roll out a billion doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, being developed in collaboration with vaccine major Sanofi, in the second half of 2021.plans to roll out a billion doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, being developed in collaboration with vaccine major Sanofi, in the second half of 2021. The company will use its well-established ‘adjuvant’ platform, and Sanofi’s protein-based antigen technology both proven platforms, which will allow a quick scale-up of vaccine doses, required globally in a pandemic.
Around 15-18 months is considered “a miracle” to roll out a vaccine, and prior research on SARS and MERS, both Corona viruses, has enabled a faster development of the one for SARS-CoV2, according to Emmanuel Hanon, head of R&D, GSK Vaccines. A classical timeline of vaccine discovery and development involves around 10 to 20 years.
After clearing clinical trials and regulatory approvals, GSK is confident of supplying a billion doses in 2021, through its existing manufacturing network in Canada and Europe, but will continue to look how best it can leverage its wide network of 13 sites.
GSK is among the 230-odd programmes globally looking at making Covid-19 vaccines, with 130 companies being in a reasonably-advanced stage. Of this, around 10 have entered clinical trials.The company believes `adjuvant’ technologies can reduce the amount of vaccine required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced, and hence getting more people immunized. This combination of a protein-based antigen together with an adjuvant is very well-established and used in a number of vaccines today. The collaboration brings together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies, combining scientific expertise, proven technologies and capabilities, to get the huge scale which is required, it added
The company said in a media presentation on Wednesday it was ``too early’’ to speak about pricing of the proposed vaccine, as it was still at the beginning of the collaboration with Sanofi. It believes global access to Covid-19 vaccines is a priority, and is committed to bringing affordable vaccines.
Responding to a query on why it did not go with Oxford University’s adenovirus vaccine candidate, he said: “We went with a robust and proven technology platform, which has proved efficacy in another disease setting. It’s about the choice of technology from a portfolio. Since this is a pandemic, we will need several players going after their choice of technology.”
With nine sites globally, the company has a unique capability and opportunity to supply a billion doses, without impacting the supply of other vaccines around the world. At present, the capability is around 2 million doses daily at present.
“We can easily accommodate this increase by adding an additional working shift, to the existing manufacturing operations. There is also no need for additional capital investments,” he said.
The company has invested 4 billion pounds in its vaccine business over the last 10 years.
GSK believes that a coordinated approach focusing on the most promising approaches is essential to enable an efficient and faster process to develop candidate vaccines. Now, around 90% of the company’s vaccines are being developed in partnerships. It has collaborated with Sanofi, Innovax, Clover Biopharmaceuticals and University of Queensland, among other partners, to develop multiple potential adjuvanted vaccine technology candidates. The company hopes to get a breakthrough with at least one of these candidates by the second half of 2021.