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UPDATE 2-Britain secures 60 mln doses of Sanofi/GSK COVID-19 vaccine

Wed, 29th Jul 2020 06:26

* Britain secures fourth vaccine supply deal

* Sanofi/GSK see regulatory approval possible in H1 2021

* "No guarantees" in vaccine hunt, UK minister says

* Britain decided against joining EU scheme

* For FACTBOX on vaccine race, click on
(Adds detail)

By Alistair Smout and Matthias Blamont

LONDON/PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) - Britain has signed a deal
for up to 60 million doses of a possible COVID-19 vaccine being
developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, it
said on Wednesday, its fourth such arrangement as the race to
tame the pandemic heats up.

No vaccine has yet been approved for COVID-19, the
respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus that has
killed more than 659,000 people and unleashed economic havoc
worldwide.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Sanofi
and GSK confirmed in a statement that regulatory approval for
their vaccine could be achieved by the first half of 2021 if
clinical data was positive.

It is Sanofi and GSK's first deal to supply their
experimental COVID-19 vaccine to a country, and British
ministers have stressed the importance of securing supplies of a
range of candidates early.

"The fact remains that there are no guarantees," said
business minister Alok Sharma.

"It is important that we secure early access to a diverse
range of promising vaccine candidates ... to increase our
chances of finding one that works."

With more than 20 vaccines in human trials, the move will
stir concerns that rich countries, including the United States
and European Union members, are scooping doses in advance,
potentially to the detriment of poorer nations.

Last week, Britain struck deals for 30 million doses of an
experimental BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, and a deal in principle
for 60 million doses of Valneva's potential shot.

That followed a previously announced pact with AstraZeneca
for 100 million doses of its potential vaccine, being
developed in partnership with Oxford university.

The Sanofi/GSK vaccine combines Sanofi's S-protein COVID-19
antigen and GSK's pandemic adjuvant technology, and the first
clinical trials are expected in September.

Adjuvants are efficacy boosters that play a vital role in
many traditional vaccines. Sanofi and GSK's vaccine uses a
different approach than either Oxford/AstraZeneca or
Pfizer/Biontech vaccines.

Sanofi and GSK said talks with the European Union, Italy and
France to supply their vaccine were ongoing.

The two firms hope to clinch a deal soon to provide 300
million doses to the EU, though two sources told Reuters that
negotiations had stalled.

Britain decided against joining the EU's vaccine purchase
scheme in order to strike its own deals.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Matthias Blamont in
Paris; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Mark Potter)

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