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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 our 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.

Our COVID-19 solutions key facts

We are working with scientific partners to develop a broad portfolio of potential COVID-19 solutions

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. 
 

What is an adjuvant?

An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone.

 
Our COVID-19 vaccine collaborations 

We have joined forces with Sanofi, combining their 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. 

We are also collaborating with Canadian biopharmaceutical company, Medicago, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by combining their plant-derived vaccine candidate with our adjuvant technology. The vaccine candidate entered phase 2/3 clinical trials in mid-November 2020 and, if successful, we aim to make the vaccine available, in the first half of 2021.

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 addition, we will support the manufacture of 100 million doses of CureVac’s first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate in 2021.

This new 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.

 
On 1 February 2021, GSK and Clover Biopharmaceuticals confirmed that the companies will not continue their COVID-19 vaccine collaboration having fully evaluated all available data, and based on discussions with Clover and CEPI. Clover continue to progress the vaccine.

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. 

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 develop new dual action monoclonal antibodies, which could be used as therapeutic or preventive options for COVID-19. Preclinical data suggest our lead antibody candidate has the potential to both block viral entry into healthy cells and clear infected cells, and provide a high barrier to resistance. Results from clinical studies are expected in early 2021.

A second antibody from our collaboration with Vir is also due to be investigated as a potential COVID-19 treatment. A phase 1/2 study in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 is due to begin in the first quarter of 2021 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 potentially important clinical benefit from otilimab in patients aged 70-79. Patients over 70 account for 70% of COVID-related deaths and nearly 40% of hospitalisations. 

Based on these findings, we have decided to amend the study to focus on patients aged 70 and over, 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. 
 

 
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.