ONE of the region's biggest employers has joined forces with a fellow pharmaceutical company to develop a vaccine in the fight against coronavirus.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) which has a site on Harmire Road, in Barnard Castle, has signed a letter of intent to enter into a collaboration with French company, Sanofi.

The firm will contribute its pandemic adjuvant technology to the collaboration whilst Sanofi will deliver its S-protein Covid-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology.

GSK said the use of an adjuvant can be of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protect more people.


Emma Walmsley, chief executive of GSK, said: “This collaboration brings two of the world’s largest vaccines companies together. By combining our science and our technologies, we believe we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19.”

The companies have set up a joint collaboration task force, co-chaired by David Loew, global head of vaccines at Sanofi and Roger Connor, president vaccines at GSK.

The taskforce will use resources from both companies to look for every opportunity to accelerate the development of the candidate vaccine.

Paul Hudson, chief executive of Sanofi, said: “As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone. That is why Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with our peers, such as GSK, with the goal to create and supply sufficient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus.”

The development of the recombinant-based coronavirus vaccine candidate is being supported through funding and a collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), in the US.

The companies plan to discuss funding support with other governments and global institutions prioritising global access.

BARDA director, Dr Rick Bright, said: “Strategic alliances among vaccine industry leaders are essential to make a coronavirus vaccine available as soon as possible. Development of the adjuvanted recombinant-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate holds the potential to lower the vaccine dose to provide vaccine to a greater number of people to end this pandemic, and help the world become better prepared or even prevent future coronavirus outbreaks.”

The pharmaceutical firms said the new collaboration marks a significant milestone in GSK’s and Sanofi’s ongoing contributions to help fight coronavirus.

They have entered into a material transfer agreement to allow them to start working together immediately.