The race to secure the successful COVID19 vaccine still continues, as the UK signs a fourth coronavirus deal. The UK government has secured 60 million doses of a vaccine being produced by established British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and French partner, Sanofi. In addition to this, the government has already secured 100 million doses of the vaccine being produced by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca.
The GSK and Sanofi vaccine will carry out human trials in September and follow with a Phase 3 in December. With the hope of this vaccine being successful, the UK could be vaccinating priority groups such as the elderly and care workers first. These groups are at an increased risk of catching coronavirus therefore it is essential their health is prioritized.
In total the UK government has signed deals for four different potential vaccines meaning the UK will secure 250 million doses. Once successful vaccines have been produced, the vaccinations will begin to take place at the first half of next year according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
As the Guardian reports, the UK government is aware that financially they will result in a loss on some of the vaccines. As Kate Bingham expresses if all of the vaccines are successful “we will be the vaccine supplier to the world” she continues, “but the likelihood is most of these will fail”. The UK government’s intention was to buy up to 12 vaccines.
The details of the financial agreement have not been disclosed to date. However, governments around the world are pledging billions of dollars for COVID-19 vaccines and the number of pharmaceutical companies in the race has increased to help the possibility of finding a successful vaccine.
The UK government deal with GSK and Sanofi is “based on the recombinant protein based technology used by Sanofi to produce a flu vaccine, as well as GSK’s established pandemic technology” as reported by BBC News.
The established drug giants are planning to scale up production to enable their companies to have the capacity to produce up to one billion doses a year over all.
The deal with the UK has spiked controversial opinion as it has been rumored that Sanofi promised to prioritize the US market. As BBC News reports Paul Hudson Sanofi Chief Executive commented about the rumored promise for the US market “the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk”. After the impact of these comments, GSK and Sanofi released a latest announcement stressing their business is “committed to making the vaccine available globally”.
Executive Vice President and Global Head of Sanofi expressed “With our partner GSK, we are pleased to cooperate with the UK government as well as several other countries and global organisations as part of our ongoing efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine and make it available as quickly as possible”.
The UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma has explained that even though the government is willing to invest in the vaccination development and production, there are still no guarantees that these vaccinations will be successful. He said “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” as reported by Sky News.
Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the UK governments Vaccines Task Force adds “This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, if any, 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.”
Some are concerned that the delivery of the vaccination is going to be an extensive process. Hugo Fry managing director of Sanofi, told Sky News when the availability may be valid for patients “If everything goes to plan, we’re looking at this time next year. July, August time 2021, for this particular vaccine”.
It is evident the UK are being productive in terms of signing vaccination supply deals as ministers are stressing the importance of this. The UK secured a deal for a further 30 million doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine last week and made an informal agreement for 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine.
The government has recorded a number of 72,000 people have come forward to join clinical studies to find a vaccine. However, by the end of October it is hoped the government can encourage 500,000 more people to come forward.
President of GSK Vaccines, Roger Connor has commented “We thank the UK government for confirmation of purchasing intent, which supports the significant investment we are already making as a company to scale up development and production of this vaccine.”