A DRUGS giant has signed an agreement with the European Commission (EC) for the supply of up to 300 million doses of a Covid vaccine, once the drug is approved.

The vaccine candidate is based on technology used by pharmaceutical company Sanofi to produce an influenza vaccine, and adjuvant technology, used by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has a factory on Harmire Road, in Barnard Castle.

This final agreement confirms the announcement made on July 31 by both companies and marks a key milestone in protecting European populations against Covid-19.

The contract will allow the purchase of a vaccine against Covid-19 by all member states of the European Union (EU), which may donate reserved doses to lower and middle-income countries.

The EU will provide upfront funding to support the scale-up of Sanofi and GSK manufacturing capabilities on European soil.

Vaccine doses will be manufactured in European countries.

The companies announced the launch of a phase one/two clinical study in support of the vaccine’s development on September 3.

A phase three study is planned to begin by the end of 2020 and regulatory approval could be requested in the first half of 2021.

Thanks in part to the agreement signed, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing of the antigen and adjuvant with the intent to produce up to one billion doses per year overall to help meet high and urgent demand for vaccines worldwide.

Prior to the announcement, Roger Connor, president of GSK vaccines said: "GSK is proud to be working in partnership with Sanofi to make this vaccine available as soon as possible in Europe.

"Both companies have significant research and development and manufacturing capability in Europe and are already working hard to scale up production across our networks.

"This announcement from the European Commission supports our ongoing efforts.”

Sanofi and GSK also recently signed agreements with the United States and UK governments.

The partners plan to supply a significant portion of total worldwide available supply in 2021/2022 to COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, a global collaboration of leaders of governments, global health organisations, businesses and philanthropies to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to coronavirus tests, treatments, and vaccinations.