Britain's GlaxoSmithKline laid out plans on Thursday to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine efficacy boosters, or adjuvants, next year as the race to develop and produce a successful solution to the coronavirus crisis heats up. The world's largest vaccine maker said it was in talks with governments to back a manufacturing expansion that would help to scale up production of future vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
It gave no indication of the programme's costs, saying only that production would take place at sites in Europe and North America and that it would reinvest any profit into coronavirus research and preparation for future pandemics. GSK is working on its own COVID vaccine with French drugmaker Sanofi, one of the many projects to counter the respiratory illness that currently that has no treatment and has killed about 350,000 people.
Adjuvants, an area where GSK leads many of its peers, have been shown to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections and allow for lower dosing of the protein in a vaccine, making way for higher-volume production. "We believe that more than one vaccine will be needed to address this global pandemic and we are working with partners around the world to do so," said GSK Global Vaccines President Roger Connor.
Experts have predicted that a successful vaccine will take more than a year to develop and companies and governments are pouring money into dozens of programmes as their best hope of allowing a durable escape from lockdowns and get economies expanding again. The United States last week secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine by pledging up to $1.2 billion.
On Thursday GSK said that making its adjuvant available to the world's poorest countries will be a key part of its efforts.