Tuesday 14 April 2020 4:54 pm

GSK partners with Sanofi to develop coronavirus vaccine

Pharmaceuticals giant Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has joined forces with French drugmaker Sanofi to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus disease.

The two firms said that they were planning to begin clinical trials for the new treatment in the second half of this year.

Read more: Astrazeneca rushes to open coronavirus drug trial

If successful, it is hoped that the vaccine would become available in the second half of 2021.

The treatment will be developed by combining Sanofi’s S-protein Covid-19 antigen and GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology.

Adjuvants are added to some vaccines in order to strengthen the immune response to the drug, creating a longer lasting immunity.

Emma Walmsley, GSK’s chief executive, said: “This collaboration brings together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies. 

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“By combining our scientific expertise, technologies and capabilities, we believe that we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19.”

Earlier today it was announced that rival drugmaker Astrazeneca is set to begin clinical trials to test its Calquence drug’s effectiveness in the treatment of severe coronavirus patients.

Calquence is an Astrazeneca drug used to treat some blood cancers. But the firm said it could be used to treat the immune response in severe cases of coronavirus.

Early tests have indicated Calquence could suppress the inflammation caused by coronavirus and so mitigate respiratory harm.

Read more: Pharma giant GSK takes $250m stake in firm to develop coronavirus vaccine

The partnership with Sanofi is just one of a number of coronavirus-related programmes GSK has committed to in recent weeks. 

Last week the firm took a $250m stake in US firm Vir Biotechnology to help develop a vaccine.