GlaxoSmithKline offers fill-finish capacity to Novavax for UK supply of Covid-19 vaccine
UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has taken a broad response to the Covid-19 pandemic, working on both vaccines and therapeutics. So far, that strategy hasn’t churned out much success — but the drugmaker is still signing deals, this time with vaccine player Novavax.
GSK will chip in on producing Novavax’s recombinant Covid-19 vaccine, pledging fill-finish capacity for 60 million doses of the shot for use in the UK as part of a deal with the Maryland biotech and the UK government announced Monday.
The pharma will hold capacity at its Barnard Castle facility in northeast England beginning as early as May with tech transfer slated to begin immediately. Final terms of the deal are pending, GSK said.
Novavax is on the hook for 60 million doses of its shot to the UK as part of a deal signed back in August. Novavax’s contract partner, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, is producing the antigen component of the shot at its UK site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.
It’s the latest partnership in GSK’s plan to take as many possible shots on goal with Covid-19 as possible. The drugmaker is currently working on a partnered vaccine with French drugmaker Sanofi that is cycling through a Phase II test, and has chased antibody therapeutics as a solo project and in partnership with Vir Biotechnology. The drugmaker has also pledged to supply up to 100 million doses of a potential mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine from German firm CureVac.
So far, none of those projects have yet crossed the finish line, but GSK’s work with Vir is the likely frontrunner.
Late last week, the partners filed for an emergency use authorization with the FDA for the antibody, dubbed VIR-7831, to treat mild-to-moderate Covid-19 who are at risk for progression to hospitalization or death. The submission was based on interim Phase III data showing the drug posted an 85% reduction in hospitalization or death compared with placebo. The trial’s Independent Data Monitoring Committee recommended that the trial stop enrollment because of the early sign of efficacy, and GSK said the antibody could have benefit against emerging variants.
Notching an efficacy win even with the escape variants included would be a big boost to the partners’ resume, particularly after Eli Lilly’s own Covid-19 antibody was largely taken off shelves due to a lack of efficacy there. Today, the Indy pharma posted early Phase II data showing the antibody, bamlanivimab, and VIR-7831 successfully reduced viral loads over bamlanivimab alone. The degree to which that benefit was tied to the drug combo itself or just VIR-7831 is unknown, and the companies are still enrolling that study.