Business & Finance
EU signs its second COVID-19 vaccine deal with Sanofi and GSK
18 September 2020 -

Reuters news agency reported on Friday that the European Union has agreed to buy a potential COVID-19 vaccine from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi SA and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in its second such deal to secure supplies.

This comes as a deadline for joining the World Health Organisation's (WHO) vaccine purchase programme looms.

Under this deal, the two companies, which have teamed up to manufacture a recombinant protein-based vaccine they hope to get approved in 2021, will provide the EU with up to 300 million doses.

Reportedly, this agreement confirms an announcement made on 31 July 2020 by the two companies and follows an earlier deal between the EU and AstraZeneca for up to 400 million doses.

In return for the right to the doses, the European Commission will finance part of the upfront costs faced by vaccine producers. The vaccine doses themselves will be bought by EU countries.

According to Reuters, this latest deal comes on deadline day for members of the WHO to join its COVAX scheme, which aims to buy COVID-19 vaccines and ensure immunisations are fairly and efficiently distributed.

So far, 92 lower-income nations are seeking assistance via COVAX, part of the WHO's ACT Accelerator to boost development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to combat the pandemic. Also, about 80 higher-income nations have expressed interest, but many have yet to join as they scramble to secure supplies separately.

For Sanofi and GSK, this deal follows a USD2.1bn agreement with the US in July 2020 for 100 million doses, with an option for Washington to purchase an additional 500 million, as well as a UK deal for 60 million doses.

Sanofi and GSK started clinical trials of their vaccine in September 2020 and aim to reach the final testing stage by December 2020. Also, the two companies are scaling up manufacturing to be ready to produce up to one billion doses per year.