The US government has announced that it will pay $2.1 billion to Sanofi SA and GSK GlaxoSmithKline for making the COVID-19 vaccine, to cover 50 million people and the infected. The Drugmakers are furnished with the biggest yet from “Operation Warp Speed”, the White House initiative aimed at accelerating access to vaccines and treatments to fight Covid-19. The respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The deal, announced by the US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defence, works out at a cost of around $42 per person. However, this is almost identical to the $40 per patient US agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech SE when it inked on nearly $2 billion deal for 50 million courses of that potential vaccine last week.
The deal is for 100 million doses two per person and gives the government an option to purchase an additional 500 million doses at an unspecified price. Sanofi and GSK plan to start clinical trials for the vaccine in September. Sanofi executive Clement Lewin said the companies have not yet agreed with on a specific price for the additional doses.
GSK said in a statement that, “more than half of the total funding will go into further development of the vaccine, including clinical trials, with the remainder used for a manufacturing ramp-up and delivery of the doses.”
Both the companies’ immunization is combination of a vaccine based on Sanofi’s flu shots and a complementary technology from GSK called an adjuvant, designed to improve the vaccine’s potency to heal. It marks the second contract for the Franco-British pair’s vaccine candidate after they agreed earlier this week to supply 60 million doses to the British government.
Last week Pfizer’s deal was expected to set a benchmark for future deals between the drug-makers and the government. Moderna Inc and Pfizer began with two 30,000-subject trials of Covid-19 vaccines on Monday that could clear the way for regulatory approval and use by the end of this year.