EU pays $ 384m for Sanofi-GSK COVID vaccine as WHO program deadline draws near

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BRUSSELS / PARIS (Reuters) – The European Union has agreed to buy a potential COVID-19 vaccine from Sanofi and GSK as part of its second such deal to secure supplies, as the deadline to join the program purchase of vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO) is looming.

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and medical syringe can be seen in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / File Photo

The deal will see French and UK drugmakers, who have teamed up to make a recombinant protein vaccine they hope to get approved next year, supply the EU with up to 300 million doses in return. a down payment of 324 million euros (384 million dollars).

Friday’s deal confirms an announcement made on July 31 by the two companies and follows an earlier deal between the EU and AstraZeneca to supply up to 400 million shots after a down payment of 336 million euros.

In exchange for the right to doses, the European Commission will finance part of the initial costs borne by vaccine producers. The vaccine doses themselves will be purchased by EU countries.

The latest deal comes at the deadline for WHO members to join its COVAX program, which aims to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and ensure equitable and efficient vaccine distribution.

So far, 92 low-income countries are seeking assistance through COVAX, which is part of WHO’s ACT accelerator to boost the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to fight the pandemic.

Some 80 higher-income countries have expressed interest, but many have yet to join as they struggle to source separately.

France will fund the initiative, but will not source photos through it, a health ministry official said on Thursday, after Paris decided to be part of a joint program organized by the EU.

There is currently no internationally approved vaccine against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 946,000 lives and derailed the global economy.

For Sanofi and GSK, the deal follows a $ 2.1 billion deal with the United States in July for 100 million doses, with an option for Washington to buy an additional 500 million, as well as an agreement UK for 60 million doses.

Sanofi and GSK began clinical trials of their vaccine this month and aim to reach the final phase of testing by December.

The vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a vaccine booster, manufactured by GSK.

Both companies are ramping up production to be ready to produce up to a billion doses per year.

Sanofi is also working on another potential vaccine against COVID-19 with the American company Translate Bio, using a technology called mRNA.

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(1 USD = 0.8440 euros)

Additional report by Francesco Guarascio, edited by Louise Heavens

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