COVID-19: Another coronavirus vaccine set to enter production within weeks – and UK has 60m doses ordered | Science & Tech News

Production of the coronavirus vaccine developed by French firm Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will begin within weeks, the firms have said.

The two companies are currently in Phase 3 of their trials, which will see 35,000 adult volunteers receive their coronavirus jab across the US, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

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They will test for effectiveness against the original form of COVID-19 that swept across the world after emerging in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 – and also the variant first detected in South Africa.

“Manufacturing will begin in the coming weeks to enable rapid access to the vaccine should it be approved,” a joint statement from Sanofi and GSK said.

The Sanofi-GSK vaccine could be given the green light by drugs regulators in the final three months of this year if the Phase 3 trials are successful.

It was originally due to be approved in the first half of 2021, but Sanofi and GSK were forced to restart trials in December after studies showed a poor immune response in the elderly.

The UK has ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine, joining existing supplies from Oxford-Astrazeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer-BioNTech, while the EU is depending heavily on the French firm for its supply – having ordered 300 million doses for use across the bloc.

“The design of the Phase 3 trial conducted across a broad diversity of geographies, also allows evaluation of the efficacy of the candidate against a variety of circulating variants,” Sanofi said in a statement.

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The company also said it would begin clinical studies in the coming weeks to see if the jab could also be used as a booster – regardless of what vaccine a person had originally.

Thomas Triomphe, who leads vaccine research and development at Sanofi, added: “We are encouraged to see first vaccinations starting to take place in such an important, pivotal Phase 3 study.”

Separately, GSK is working with German biotech firm CureVac on a next-generation COVID vaccine that could be used against several new variants at once. They say they plan to launch the jab in 2022.

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