From right: Mireli Fino walks Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Gov. Ned Lamont through Sanofi’s Connecticut vaccine lab with Clem Lewin. (Jason Mast for Endpoints News)

‘It’s like the tor­toise and the hare’: A pan­dem­ic puts Sanofi’s $600M bet to the test

MERI­DEN, CT — In a ware­house-turned-lab off In­ter­state 91 here, Con­necti­cut Gov. Ned La­m­ont and his team peer through plas­tic gog­gles at a screen show­ing row af­ter row of lu­mi­nous white orbs. The orbs sit against a flu­o­res­cent pur­ple back­ground, some puff­ing ghost­ly, chem­i­cal con­trails. For now, they test the po­ten­cy of a Sanofi flu vac­cine: the wider the orb, the more pow­er­ful the pro­phy­lac­tic.

Soon, though, new vials will ar­rive from across the street car­ry­ing a new can­di­date: Sanofi’s at­tempt at a coro­n­avirus vac­cine. Af­ter tests here, it will go to New York for large-scale pro­duc­tion and then —  well, we’ll get to that. But now, on Thurs­day, the gov­er­nor’s team has packed in­to a nor­mal­ly qui­et lab, where site head Mire­li Fi­no is ex­plain­ing their Covid-19 re­sponse to an in­trigued but ques­tion­ing au­di­ence.

“We were able to re­al­ly go fast,” she says.

In­dresh Sri­vas­ta­va

“So some­one told me that there was a com­pa­ny that al­ready has a vac­cine they’re test­ing,” Lt. Gov. Su­san Bysiewicz says, clutch­ing the gov­er­nor’s speech close to her pa­per lab coat. “It’s some­thing N-I-O –”

“ — it’s Mod­er­na,” of­fers In­dresh Sri­vas­ta­va, di­rec­tor of the flu pro­gram here. “There’s two com­pa­nies. Mod­er­na, which us­es mR­NA tech­nol­o­gy, and In­ovio, which us­es DNA tech­nol­o­gy.“

Now La­m­ont leans in, ap­par­ent­ly weigh­ing the news that Mod­er­na al­ready has a clin­i­cal vac­cine against the time­line Sanofi first gave: “Do they have a 6-month head start on you?” he asks. “Or is every­body … ?”

“Well the way I would put it is like the tor­toise and the hare,” Clem Lewin, the AVP of R&D strat­e­gy and the most se­nior Sanofi em­ploy­ee on the floor. “We be­lieve we’re a lit­tle slow­er at the start but we feel we’ll catch up.”

Endpoints News

Sign up to read this article for free.

Get free access to a limited number of articles, plus choose newsletters to get straight to your inbox.