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US pledges $2.1B to COVID vaccine from Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline

US pledges $2.1B to COVID vaccine from Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline

The feds will give Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline up to $2.1 billion to churn out a coronavirus vaccine in the Trump administration’s latest and largest bet on an experimental inoculation.

More than half the award announced Friday will help the European drugmakers develop and test their vaccine, while the rest will be used to support manufacturing and deliver 100 million doses, the companies said.

The deal — part of the US’s Operation Warp Speed — gives the feds the option to acquire 500 million additional doses assuming the vaccine proves safe and effective in clinical studies that have yet to begin.

“We thank the US government for playing a very important role in providing early, significant funding to enable the development and scale-up of this potentially important vaccine,” Roger Connor, president of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines arm, said in a statement.

The news sent GlaxoSmithKline’s US-listed shares up 1.7 percent to $40.95 in premarket trading as of 8:21 a.m., while Sanofi’s were recently up about 1.1 percent at $53.07.

This is the largest funding commitment yet under Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s multibillion-dollar initiative to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January. The feds have pledged more than $6 billion to five other vaccine candidates through the program involving half a dozen federal agencies.

None of them have been proven to ward off the coronavirus that has killed more than 150,000 Americans, though four are slated to start the final stage of clinical testing by the end of the year.

Paris-based Sanofi and UK-based GlaxoSmithKline expect to start a vaccine trial in September combining the first and second stages of clinical testing before kicking off a crucial Phase 3 study by the end of 2020.

If the trials go well, the companies say they can seek regulatory approval for the vaccine in the US in the first half of 2021 while building the capacity to produce as many as 1 billion doses per year.

“The portfolio of vaccines being assembled for Operation Warp Speed increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

The feds have also committed Operation Warp Speed funding to vaccines being developed by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, as well as a collaborative effort between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and another between Pfizer and BioNTech.

About the author

Erin Fox

Erin Fox

From television to the internet platform, Erin switched her journey in digital media with News Brig. She served as a journalist for popular news channels and currently contributes his experience for News Brig by writing about the tech domain.

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