Wednesday 15 April 2020 1:04 pm

Coronavirus: GSK chief urges drug firms to work together to develop vaccines

The chief executive of pharmaceuticals giant Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has urged companies to join together to speed the development of a coronavirus vaccine, warning that the world will need more than one treatment for the disease.

Emma Walmsley’s words came after the firm announced it had partnered with French drugmaker Sanofi to make a vaccine. 

Read more: GSK partners with Sanofi to develop coronavirus vaccine

Clinical trials for the treatment, which combines Sanofi’s S-protein Covid-19 antigen and GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology, are set to begin in the second half of the year.

If successful, it is hoped that the vaccine will be available by the end of 2021.

Speaking to the BBC, Walmsley said: “The world’s going to definitely need more than one vaccine when you think about demand in this hugely challenged global health crisis.

“It normally takes a decade, sometimes even more, to develop a vaccine but obviously we are in an unprecedented situation, the need is incredibly urgent. 

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“We are partnering with regulators to try and go as fast as we safely can.” 

There are more than 20 programmes underway around the world to develop a vaccine, but GSK and Sanofi’s partnership brings a unique combination of scale and expertise that could be critical.

The partnership with Sanofi is one of a number of steps GSK has taken to contribute to efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

It has also struck up alliances with US and Chinese companies in a bid to accelerate the development of a vaccine for the disease.

Read more: Astrazeneca rushes to open coronavirus drug trial

GSK is also working alongside rival Astrazeneca to help the UK government reach its goal of conducting 100,000 virus tests a day by the end of the month.

Walmsley said that the partnership between the UK’s two largest drugmakers would hopefully enable the government to carry out 30,000 additional tests a day by the beginning of May.