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
Using our science, technology, portfolio and resources to support development of products for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and the overall global response.
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. Three of these collaborative projects have clinical trials underway.
Our collaboration with Sanofi
We have joined forces with Sanofi, bringing together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies in an unprecedented collaboration. We have combined their vaccine candidate with our adjuvant technology to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which entered clinical trials in September 2020. We anticipate first results in December 2020 and to start a phase 3 study before the end of the year. If the clinical trials are successful, we will request regulatory approval in the first half of 2021.
Our collaborations with Medicago and Clover Biopharmaceuticals
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. Importantly, Medicago can support the production of large amounts of vaccine in a significantly shortened timeline. 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.
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.
Our third collaboration in clinical trials is with China-based Clover Biopharmaceuticals. Again we are using our adjuvant in combination with their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which moved into phase 1 clinical trials in June 2020 and is expected to enter late stage clinical trials before the end of the year.
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 confirmed our intention to manufacture 1 billion doses of our adjuvant in 2021 to support the development of multiple adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccines. We will manufacture, fill and finish adjuvant for use in COVID-19 vaccines at sites in the UK, US, Canada and Europe.
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 existing and identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as therapeutic or preventive options for COVID-19. A global phase 3 study is currently underway with one of these antibodies, for the early treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation. Initial results may be available before the end of 2020.
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 beyond their current indications in response to the pandemic.
Following this work, we started a global phase 2 study in May 2020 to assess whether one of our potential new medicines, otilimab – also a monoclonal antibody – can help some COVID-19 patients who experience an overreaction of their immune system, which can lead to hospitalisation or death. Results from this study are expected in the first half of 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.
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.