- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Drugmaker Sanofi said Wednesday it will let its rival, Pfizer, access its manufacturing infrastructure this summer to produce 125 million more doses of coronavirus vaccine for the European Union.

The French pharmaceutical giant is developing its own vaccine, with GlaxoSmithKline, that uses a recombinant protein platform.

But Sanofi said it offered its expertise and facility in Frankfurt, Germany, because Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, developed a messenger-RNA vaccine that’s already in use.

“We are very conscious that the earlier vaccine doses are available, the more lives can potentially be saved. Today’s announcement is a pivotal step towards our industry’s collective goal of putting all the effort in to curb this pandemic,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said.

The decision is significant because it shows that companies are able to work together to accelerate the supply of vaccines that could bring the virus to manageable levels.

Some experts say President Biden should use his “wartime” posture to use existing lines of medical production owned by companies besides Pfizer or Moderna, which makes the other vaccine approved for emergency use in the U.S.

The E.U. desperately needs more vaccines. It is locked in a running battle with AstraZeneca, saying shipments have fallen short of expectations, and officials are griping that the U.S. and U.K. enjoy outsized supply of existing vaccines.

“Although vaccination campaigns have started around the world, the ability to get shots into arms is being limited by lower-than-expected supplies and delayed approval timelines owing to production shortages,” Mr. Hudson, at Sanofi, said. “We have made the decision to support BioNTech and Pfizer in manufacturing their COVID-19 vaccine in order to help address global needs, given that we have the technology and facilities to do so.”

Sanofi and GSK said their own vaccine produced an immune response in adults aged 18- 49 that’s comparable to patients who recover from natural infection. But it produced a low immune response in older adults.

It is launching a phase 2 study in February that uses a better antigen formulation to pursue a better response across all ages.

If successful, it will launch a phase 3 study in the second quarter with the aim of regulatory approval in the second half of the year.

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