© 2023 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Oregon's Willamette Valley seen from Eugene
NPR for Oregonians
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Coronavirus Vaccine? Two Pharmaceutical Giants Collaborating To Develop One

Two of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers are joining forces to develop a new vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Usually, the pharmaceutical behemoths GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are competitors, but in a conference call with reporters, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said the coronavirus pandemic represented "an unprecedented global health threat," and, therefore, required new ways of doing business.

"We're joining up with Sanofi in an unprecedented collaboration," Walmsley said. "It brings together two of the world's biggest vaccine companies with proven pandemic technologies and significant scale, all with the aim of developing an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine."

An adjuvanted vaccine is one that includes a compound known as an adjuvant that enhances someone's immune response to a vaccine. In the partnership, GSK will be providing the adjuvant and Sanofi will provide the specific protein component of the coronavirus that will generate the appropriate antibody response.

GSK is hoping the partnership will reduce the development time of a vaccine considerably. Under normal circumstances, it can take a decade to bring a new vaccine to market.

"But we're planning to start trials in the next few months," Walmsley said. "And if we're successful, subject to regulatory considerations, we aim to complete the development required to make the vaccine available in the second half of 2021."

Johnson & Johnson also provided an update on that company's vaccine plans in a conference call with investors. Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said the company had identified one lead and two alternate vaccine candidates that it planned to prepare to manufacture.

"Our goal is to be able to produce 1 billion doses of the vaccine globally," Stoffels said. He added that he hoped to have results of safety data on the first vaccine candidate by the end of the year.

"This could allow vaccine availability under emergency use authorization by 2021," Stoffels said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.