Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has today announced that it is beginning human trials of the coronavirus vaccine it is developing with French pharma firm Sanofi.
The two joined forces back in April to develop the potential vaccine, testing of which is now ready to move to the next stage after promising initial results.
The combined phase 1 and 2 trials will see 440 adults enrolled in studies at 11 sites across the US, with results expected in early December.
GSK said that if the results were positive it would seek regulatory approval for the vaccine in the first half of 2021.
Over the course of next year, the two firms are targeting the production of 1bn doses of the shot, 60m of which have already been promised to the UK.
It has also signed deals with the US to provide at least 100m doses, with options to purchase a further 500bn.
The novel treatment combines the technology from one of Sanofi’s flu vaccines with GSK’s adjuvant technology, which boosts the efficacy of vaccines.
Roger Connor, President of GSK Vaccines said: “Moving this vaccine candidate into clinical development is an important moment in the progress towards addressing the global pandemic we are all facing.
“This builds on the confidence shown by governments already in the potential of this protein-based adjuvanted vaccine candidate, which utilises established technology from both companies, and can be produced at scale by two of the leading vaccine manufacturers globally.”
A vaccine is widely considered the best hope for vanquishing the coronavirus disease, which has infected nearly 25m people worldwide and sent the global economy into meltdown.
There are more than 180 programmes around the world working on such treatments. One of these, Russia’s so-called “Sputnik” vaccine, has already been granted regulatory approval, although this has been met with skepticism by many.
GSK’s rival Astrazeneca is one of the leading candidates to develop a working vaccine, in combination with scientists at the University of Oxford.
After positive data from trials in July, the vaccine’s lead developer said there was a possibility that it could be rolled out by Christmas.