Paul Hudson is more confident in Sanofi's ability to produce a Covid-19 vaccine — report
Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson expressed renewed confidence Friday regarding its company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate being developed with GSK.
As the candidate is set to start clinical trials sometime next month, Hudson told Reuters that Sanofi has seen positive data so far this summer. That gusto builds upon comments he made in June about the higher likelihood Sanofi produces a vaccine with greater than 70% efficacy compared to rivals.
“The early data is saying that we’re on the right track and that we have a vaccine,” Hudson told Reuters on Friday. “Our confidence has increased. We have work to do like everybody on manufacturing in large volumes. But we will have one, maybe two vaccines next year.”
Currently, the Sanofi/GSK candidate ranks 26th in Endpoints News’ Covid-19 vaccine tracker.
The French pharma was slow out of the gate in the Covid-19 vaccine race, partnering with GSK in April to combine its candidate with an adjuvant from the British drugmaker. Though others in the field had netted contracts from Operation Warp Speed earlier, Sanofi ultimately scored one of the biggest deals worth $2.1 billion.
Sanofi has also negotiated to supply vaccines to the UK, with talks in advanced stages to provide up to 300 million vaccines to the European Union as well. However, those talks have hit a snag, as the bloc is not planning to offer full protection from civil liability lawsuits.
Earlier this week, a report from the Financial Times said that the European vaccines lobby Vaccines Europe is pushing the EU to do so, circulating a memo among members saying the “speed and scale of development and rollout do mean that it is impossible to generate the same amount of underlying evidence that normally would be available through extensive clinical trials and healthcare providers building experience.” That would ultimately create “inevitable” risks.
The bloc is trying to come up with a plan to compensate drugmakers, however, given the risks associated with accelerated manufacturing. Sanofi and GSK are two of several high-profile members of Vaccines Europe, which also includes Merck, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
“I think with the level of protection, we have reached an ‘agreed level.’ And I think that has allowed us to go forward and sign. But I am aware there are different positions on how strong that is,” Hudson told Reuters regarding the liability issue.
Sanofi is currently developing a second Covid-19 vaccine candidate with the biotech Translate Bio, using mRNA technology. A few days ago, an SEC filing from Translate said that early testing of that candidate induced an immune response in primates, showing “high neutralizing titers that are comparable to the upper range of those observed in infected humans,” inducing “TH1-biased T cell responses.”
The two companies agreed to a $2 billion-plus vaccines R&D agreement back in June.
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