Our response to COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our thoughts are with those who are impacted. Our foremost contribution in the fight against COVID-19 is using our science to develop solutions. We are also doing everything we can to ensure the health and wellbeing of patients, customers, employees and communities.
Consistent with our values and role as a science-led global healthcare company, we are continuing to make decisions informed by the latest science and in consultation with leading health authorities.
Since the pandemic began, we have been seeking ways to harness our scientific expertise and technology to make a difference. As a result, we are working with several partners to develop potential COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as quickly and safely as possible. On this page we share an overview of what we are doing.
Developing COVID-19 vaccines
We are collaborating with several organisations working on promising COVID-19 vaccines by providing access to our adjuvant technology.
The use of an adjuvant is of importance in a pandemic situation where there is significant demand for a vaccine, since it may allow more doses to be produced from less ingredients and therefore enable manufacturing at scale.
We believe more than one vaccine will be needed and we’re hoping that there will be several successful vaccines developed with our adjuvant technology.
Our COVID-19 vaccine collaborations
We have joined forces with Sanofi, combining a vaccine candidate with our adjuvant technology to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidate. An update was issued in December 2020 on the phase 1/2 clinical trial. The companies initiated a new phase 2 clinical trial in February 2021. Results from that study were published in May 2021. A phase 3 clinical trial has been initiated.
We are collaborating with Canadian biopharmaceutical company, Medicago, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by combining a plant-derived vaccine candidate with our adjuvant technology. A vaccine candidate entered phase 3 clinical trials in March 2021 following positive interim phase 2 clinical trial data that was published in May. This phase 3 trial is ongoing.
We are also working in collaboration with SK Bioscience of South Korea on an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine. SK Bioscience receives funding from CEPI and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop differentiated, affordable COVID-19 vaccines for supply globally through the COVAX facility. In August 2021 we began phase 3 testing following review of positive interim phase 1/2 data.
In February 2021, we announced that we will work with CureVac to jointly develop next generation mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 with the potential to address multiple emerging variants. In August 2021 we announced encouraging results following pre-clinical testing, supporting further clinical testing.
This COVID-19 agreement builds on the existing relationship between GSK and CureVac. In July 2020, we announced a strategic collaboration to research, develop, manufacture and commercialise up to five mRNA-based vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. GSK also made a £130m equity investment in CureVac.
How can plant based vaccines technology help fight COVID-19?
Medicago’s plant-based approach uses living plants to produce non-infectious versions of viruses (called Virus-like Particles, or VLPs) allowing them to be recognised by the immune system and eliciting a protective immune response.
In September 2020 Emma Walmsley, our CEO, signed a pledge, with eight other pharmaceutical companies, to uphold the integrity of the scientific process in the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Manufacturing our adjuvant
We have scaled up manufacturing of our pandemic adjuvant across our global network to support the adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccines in development through our collaborations.
Adjuvant ingredients are derived from a number of sources. Research to explore viable alternatives to fish-derived squalene, which is an essential ingredient of our pandemic adjuvant system, is ongoing. However these alternatives are not currently available.
In addition to our manufacturing agreement with CureVac, in March 2021 we announced an agreement in principle to support the manufacture of up to 60 million doses of Novavax’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate for use in the UK.
Vaccine pricing and access
Our approach to pricing recognises the unprecedented scale of COVID-19 and the huge impact it is having on the world’s population and health systems; while striking a balance between supporting the sustainability of our business model.
As part of this approach, we have made three commitments:
- We will supply our adjuvant to governments and institutions at a responsible price, either as standalone adjuvants or as part of an adjuvanted vaccine.
- To make our adjuvant available to all countries, including the world’s poorest nations, we will offer donations - either as standalone adjuvants or as part of an adjuvanted vaccine - to global institutions who can determine the need and help with delivery on the ground.
- We do not expect to profit from our vaccine collaborations during the pandemic. We will re-invest profits made on sales of our adjuvant during the COVID-19 pandemic phase to support coronavirus related research and long-term global pandemic preparedness.
Sanofi and ourselves recently signed agreements with the United States, United Kingdom and Canadian governments, and with the European Commission, for the supply of our vaccine if it is successful. In addition, we plan to provide a significant portion of total worldwide available supply to COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the ACT-Accelerator (Access to COVID‐19 Tools). The ACT-Accelerator is a global collaboration bringing together organisations such as the WHO, CEPI, Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to drive the development, production, and equitable access of COVID-19 solutions.
We are committed to ensuring COVID-19 vaccines get to the people who need them. In September 2020, alongside other industry leaders, Emma Walmsley, our CEO, signed a list of commitments to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Developing COVID-19 treatments
Alongside our work to develop adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccines, we are continuing to work hard to find other ways to help tackle the pandemic, including exploring potential therapeutic or treatment options for COVID-19 patients.
What is antibody therapy?
Our immune system fights infections by recognising antigens on the surface of invading viruses and bacteria. It then makes antibodies to destroy those antigens. Antibody therapy uses monoclonal antibodies which are produced, or cloned, from immune cells in a lab. By targeting specific antigens, they could help our immune system fight diseases such as COVID-19.
Our collaboration with Vir Biotechnology
We are collaborating with Vir Biotechnology to investigate monoclonal antibodies to discover if they could be used as therapeutic or preventive options for COVID-19.
On 21 May, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Human Medicinal Products (CHMP) issued a positive scientific opinion following the referral of our monoclonal antibody candidate to the CHMP. The EMA’s recommendations can now be used to support national regulator advice on the possible use of this monoclonal antibody before a marketing authorisation is issued.
On 26 May, we received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the same monoclonal antibody for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in high risk adults and paediatric patients.
On 28 July, we announced a Joint Procurement Agreement with the European Commission to supply up to 220,000 doses of our monoclonal antibody. The Joint Procurement Agreement enables participating European Union (EU) member states to quickly purchase a monoclonal antibody, following local emergency authorisation or authorisation at the EU level, to treat high-risk patients with COVID-19 who may benefit from early treatment.
A second antibody from our collaboration with Vir is also being investigated as a potential COVID-19 treatment. A phase 1/2 study in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 is underway at multiple sites across the UK, as part of the NHS-supported AGILE platform study of potential COVID-19 therapeutics.
Testing our own pipeline and portfolio
We have looked at our marketed pharmaceutical products and medicines in development to determine if any could be used in response to the pandemic.
Following this work, we started a phase 2 study in May 2020 to assess whether one of our potential new medicines, otilimab – also a monoclonal antibody – can help treat adult patients who are hospitalised with COVID-19 related pulmonary disease. Results from this study were published in February 2021 and showed a potential clinical benefit from otilimab in patients aged 70-79.
Based on these findings, we have decided to amend the study to focus on patients aged 70 and over, to try to confirm these potentially significant findings. Results are expected later in 2021.
COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator
We are a member of the collaborative research effort, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The aim of the Accelerator is to bring pharmaceutical companies and expert academic institutions into coordinated research programmes, with the aim of bringing the most promising molecules forward that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19. We will contribute by making available compounds from its libraries for screening for activity against COVID-19.
COVID-19 treatments pricing and access
Medicines to treat COVID-19 are essential to manage ongoing disease and while patients wait for COVID-19 vaccination, for people who cannot be vaccinated, or to slow progression of the disease in high-risk patients who become sick, especially as new variants of concern emerge.
The work we have done on our cutting-edge innovation in COVID-19 therapeutics has required significant upfront investment at risk, and the technical complexity of our antibody products present unique challenges to scale and access that will need tailored approaches.
We are committed to the following approaches to access and pricing for COVID-19 therapeutics:
Access to supply
Recognising the acute urgency of patient need across the world, we will engage with governments and procurement bodies setup for Advance Purchase Agreements (APAs) to support the pandemic response. We will structure our APAs, and supply allocation, to keep agile – phasing deliveries to manage shelf-life of product and ramp up of our capacity – so we can best serve the epicentre of the outbreak as the pandemic shifts.
In an environment where economic pressures loom larger than ever before, we will price responsibly to recognise the level of innovation and investment made, supported by study results and in-line with appropriate treatment alternatives.
We are actively working with global institutions committed to access, including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO’s ACT-A and other external partners, to help us tackle significant gaps in global access pathways for monoclonal antibodies.
We will set aside a portion of our capacity in 2021 for these countries in the belief that through stakeholder collaboration, viable regulatory and supply routes to patients will be achieved.
Taking action to deliver high-demand consumer healthcare products
GSK Consumer Healthcare is prioritising actions in its supply chain to deliver more products that are in high demand, due to COVID-19. This includes increasing production for pain relief brands such as Panadol and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements such as Emergen-C and Centrum.
We are also supporting frontline healthcare workers and other people in need through donations of our consumer healthcare products to hospitals, health authorities and charities around the world. So far, we have donated over half a million products across 25 countries.
Find out more
Guidance for clinical trial investigators
Conducting clinical research during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How we research new vaccines
We invest in scientific and technical excellence to develop and launch new innovative vaccines that meet the needs of patients and payers.
How we develop new vaccines
Our work to research, develop and introduce a new vaccine typically goes through several stages.
As a business, we are supporting global efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting the safety of our people.