Clinical trials are scheduled to start in September and Sanofi has announced plans to obtain approval by the first half of next year, sooner than expected.
Over 100 vaccines are being developed and tested worldwide to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, and governments are rushing to secure the supply of vaccines before their effectiveness is even proven.
A supply agreement with Sanofi and GSK would be the second such agreement with Britain, after announcing that it would purchase 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sanofi was not immediately available to comment, while a spokesperson for GSK declined to comment. The two said they prioritize quality over speed in vaccine development.
“The government’s working group on vaccines is actively working with a wide range of companies in the UK and abroad to negotiate access to vaccines,” said a spokeswoman for the UK Department of Business. confirm whether Sanofi or GSK were among them.
The Sunday Times report said that Britain was considering taking an option to buy the vaccine if it worked in human trials, and would see the amount paid in stages.
Sanofi is working on two possible COVID-19 vaccines, one of which uses an adjuvant manufactured by GSK to potentially increase its effectiveness, and said it has the capacity to produce up to 1 billion doses per year.
Its calendar for clinical trials is at the origin of Moderna Inc, of the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca Plc, and of an alliance of BioNTech and Pfizer Inc, whose projects have all made the headlines in moving to human trials as early as March.
Sanofi received financial support from the United States and caused a stir in its home port in France after its British CEO Paul Hudson reported that Europe was too slow to support work on a vaccine, suggesting that American patients could get any vaccine developed first.
The EU is also seeking an agreement with Sanofi and has invited Britain to join its efforts to buy vaccines for the block.
Report by Alistair Smout in London, additional report by Josephine Mason in London and Michel Rose and Caroline Pailliez in Paris; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Alexander Smith
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