Skip to main content
Move the World.
Potential Coronavirus Vaccine

Lead Image © M.Rode-Foto / Adobe Stock

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi — two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world — have announced plans to collaborate on a potential coronavirus vaccine.

"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," GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said in a press release.

The pairing of GSK and Sanofi is akin to the creation of an incredible vaccine supergroup.

First, each of the companies is incredibly successful in its own right. GSK is the biggest vaccine manufacturer in the world, by revenue, with 16 vaccine manufacturing sites across the globe. Sanofi, meanwhile, is the fourth biggest with 15 sites.

Second, like any successful supergroup, they will each have something unique to offer to the collaboration.

Sanofi's contribution to the development of their potential coronavirus vaccine will be the S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which it developed using its recombinant DNA technology.

This antigen is an exact genetic match of the spike protein the coronavirus uses to infect human cells, and it alone could form the basis for a potential coronavirus vaccine.

But GSK's contribution to the joint venture — its pandemic adjuvant technology — could dramatically boost the antigen's impact.

An adjuvant is a substance that increases the immune system's response to an antigen — add an adjuvant to a vaccine, and you can decrease the dosage needed for the vaccine to be effective.

GSK has a track record of success in developing adjuvants for vaccines — the one it manufactured for 2009's H1N1 flu pandemic allowed the company to quadruple the number of vaccine doses it was able to produce.

GSK and Sanofi hope to launch Phase I clinical trials of their potential coronavirus vaccine in the second half of 2020.

If all goes well with the trials and regulatory approval for their potential coronavirus vaccine, the pair could begin distributing it in the second half of 2021 — and thanks to their massive size, they're particularly well equipped to produce a coronavirus vaccine in the quantities needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Both companies bring significant manufacturing capacity," Walmsley told reporters on April 14. "While we have a lot of work to do, given that this is in an early stage of development, we believe that if we're successful, we'll be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year."

Up Next

If you want to understand a problem, talk to the people working on solutions. Join us as we meet the people and explore the ideas on the frontlines of an unprecedented global response.

Public Health
How to Make 100 Million Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine in a Year
coronavirus vaccine
Public Health
How to Make 100 Million Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine in a Year
Creating a new vaccine is slow and expensive. One biotech firm thinks a “plug-and-play” vaccine could change that.

Creating a new vaccine is slow and expensive. One biotech firm thinks a “plug-and-play” vaccine could change that.

Public Health
Bill Gates Is Spending Billions to Produce 7 Coronavirus Vaccines
coronavirus vaccines
Public Health
Bill Gates Is Spending Billions to Produce 7 Coronavirus Vaccines
The Gates Foundation is building factories to manufacture seven promising coronavirus vaccines to prepare for mass production if any prove effective.

The Gates Foundation is building factories to manufacture seven promising coronavirus vaccines to prepare for mass production if any prove effective.

Public Health
New Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Creates Antibodies in Mice
New Coronavirus Vaccine
Public Health
New Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Creates Antibodies in Mice
A new coronavirus vaccine candidate that delivers inoculation via a microneedle patch has shown promise in a peer-reviewed mouse study.

A new coronavirus vaccine candidate that delivers inoculation via a microneedle patch has shown promise in a peer-reviewed mouse study.

Public Health
First Coronavirus Vaccine Is Ready for Human Testing
coronavirus vaccine
Public Health
First Coronavirus Vaccine Is Ready for Human Testing
The experimental coronavirus vaccine, mRNA-1273, began human testing on March 16, several weeks ahead of expectations.

The experimental coronavirus vaccine, mRNA-1273, began human testing on March 16, several weeks ahead of expectations.

Coronavirus
“Antibody Inhaler” Could Rapidly Treat—and Prevent—COVID-19
antibody inhaler
Coronavirus
“Antibody Inhaler” Could Rapidly Treat—and Prevent—COVID-19
Scientists have discovered a new antibody therapy that can be inhaled to provide treatment and temporary immunity to the coronavirus.
By Sarah Wells

Scientists have discovered a new antibody therapy that can be inhaled to provide treatment and temporary immunity to the coronavirus.

Public Health
A New Device Is Protecting Healthcare Workers from Airborne Coronavirus
Protecting Healthcare Workers
Public Health
A New Device Is Protecting Healthcare Workers from Airborne Coronavirus
Researchers have developed a system for protecting healthcare workers while they treat coronavirus patients in need of respiratory support.

Researchers have developed a system for protecting healthcare workers while they treat coronavirus patients in need of respiratory support.

Sonification
Why Scientists Are Turning the Coronavirus’ Structure Into Music
Coronavirus Structure
Sonification
Why Scientists Are Turning the Coronavirus’ Structure Into Music
MIT scientists have translated a key part of the coronavirus’ structure into music — and the song could help researchers find a way to stop the virus.

MIT scientists have translated a key part of the coronavirus’ structure into music — and the song could help researchers find a way to stop the virus.

Public Health
Doctors: Home-Based Care for Coronavirus Could Save Lives
home-based care for coronavirus
Public Health
Doctors: Home-Based Care for Coronavirus Could Save Lives
A group of doctors in Italy is making the case for more home-based care for coronavirus patients as a way of coping with the overwhelming COVID-19 outbreak.

A group of doctors in Italy is making the case for more home-based care for coronavirus patients as a way of coping with the overwhelming COVID-19 outbreak.

Public Health
Here Is Every Potential Coronavirus Treatment and Vaccine
coronavirus treatment
Public Health
Here Is Every Potential Coronavirus Treatment and Vaccine
Across the globe, researchers are scrambling to find a coronavirus treatment or vaccine that could bring the COVID-19 outbreak to a swift end.

Across the globe, researchers are scrambling to find a coronavirus treatment or vaccine that could bring the COVID-19 outbreak to a swift end.