The World Health Organization’s (WHO) call for nations to end vaccine nationalism, continues to be ignored by wealthier nations. FILE PHOTO AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Covid-19 vaccine race: US makes deal for 100 million doses

CAPE TOWN- The United States (U.S) announced over the weekend it will pay $2.1 billion to two major drug companies to produce 100 million doses of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi will receive more than half of the money to produce the vaccine candidate while Great Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline will continue to make a booster that improves how the body responds to it.

The deal falls under the Trump administration’s initiative called ‘Operation Warp Speed’, which is aimed at getting a vaccine to stop Covid-19. The US has now spent more than $8 billion on experimental vaccines that may or may not be successful.

In a press release Executive Vice President and Global Head of Sanofi Pasteur, Thomas Triomphe, said: “The global need for a vaccine to help prevent Covid-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone”.

Triomphe continued saying that Sanofi has leveraged its scientific expertise and resources to help address this crisis and has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“With our partner GSK, we expect our Phase 1/2 study for the recombinant adjuvanted approach to start in September,” he said. 

Sanofi’s experimental vaccine uses DNA and a never-released experimental vaccine against the virus. The potential vaccine could begin Phase 3 studies, the final phase before licensing, by the end of 2020. If it’s shown to be safe and effective, the companies anticipate seeking regulatory approval in the first half of 2021.

The DNA-based vaccine candidate is one of two the companies are working on. The other is a messenger RNA vaccine, the same type being developed by Moderna.

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