Sanofi, GSK snag largest virus vac­cine deals to date

US agrees to pay $2.1B to de­velop and de­liver 100M doses

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Katie Thomas

The French drug­maker Sanofi said Fri­day that it had se­cured an agree­ment worth up to $2.1 bil­lion to sup­ply the U.S. fed­eral gov­ern­ment with 100 mil­lion doses of its ex­per­i­men­tal coron­avirus vac­cine, the largest such deal an­nounced to date.

The ar­range­ment brings the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­vest­ment in coron­avirus vac­cine projects to more than $8 bil­lion. This mul­ti­a­gency ef­fort, known as Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed, is plac­ing bets on mul­ti­ple vac­cines and is pay­ing com­pa­nies to man­u­fac­ture millions of doses be­fore clin­i­cal tri­als have been com­pleted.

“The global need for a vac­cine to help pre­vent COVID-19 is mas­sive, and no sin­gle vac­cine or com­pany will be able to meet the global de­mand alone,” Thomas Tri­om­phe, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and global head of Sanofi Pas­teur, the com­pany’s vac­cine di­vi­sion, said in a state­ment.

Also on Fri­day, the Euro­pean Union said it was work­ing on a deal with Sanofi to buy up to 300 mil­lion doses of po­ten­tial vac­cines to dis­trib­ute to cit­i­zens in its 27 mem­ber coun­tries. Fi­nan­cial de­tails of those deals were not dis­closed.

Un­der the U.S. deal, Sanofi and its part­ner, the Bri­tish phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Glax­o­SmithK­line, will re­ceive fed­eral fund­ing to pay for clin­i­cal tri­als as well as for man­u­fac­tur­ing the vac­cine. Sanofi said the deal also in­cludes an op­tion for the com­pany to sup­ply an ad­di­tional 500 mil­lion doses. The com­pany ex­pects to be­gin clin­i­cal tri­als to test for safety in Septem­ber, fol­lowed by late-stage ef­fi­cacy tri­als be­fore the end of this year. Sanofi said it could ap­ply for reg­u­la­tory ap­proval in the first half of next year.

If suc­cess­ful, the vac­cine would be made avail­able to Amer­i­cans at no cost, other than what providers charge to ad­min­is­ter it, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment.

The head of Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed, Mon­cef Slaoui, is a for­mer GSK ex­ec­u­tive who as of May held just un­der $10 mil­lion in GSK stock. Slaoui’s fi­nan­cial ties to some of the com­pa­nies that are pur­su­ing coron­avirus vac­cines have raised ques­tions about con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Sanofi and GSK did not say how much of the fed­eral money would go to each com­pany — only that Sanofi would re­ceive the most. GSK did not com­ment on whether Slaoui had re­cused him­self from ne­go­ti­a­tions. A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said all agree­ments were ne­go­ti­ated by fed­eral “ac­qui­si­tion pro­fes­sion­als” and Slaoui did not play a role in the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

A hand­ful of other vac­cine can­di­dates are al­ready in late-stage clin­i­cal tri­als, and some, such as As­traZeneca and Moderna, have said a vac­cine could be ready be­fore the end of this year.

Sanofi’s coron­avirus vac­cine re­lies on a pro­tein-based tech­nol­ogy the com­pany uses to pro­duce an in­fluenza vac­cine. It is sim­i­lar to a tech­nique used by an­other com­pany, No­vavax, that will re­ceive up to $1.6 bil­lion from the De­fense De­part­ment and the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices to de­velop its ex­per­i­men­tal vac­cine. GSK is sup­ply­ing the Sanofi vac­cine with an ad­ju­vant, an in­gre­di­ent used in many vac­cines that boosts the im­mune re­sponse.

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