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Behind the Business: GSK Forms Strategic Alliance to Save Lives

| Health Care, Manufacturing

It’s not surprising to see the North Carolina business community coming together for the greater good; our state has steered efforts in resiliency and recovery long before COVID-19. With the best research, science and technology innovators in our backyard, the nation is turning to North Carolina businesses to lead the way in identifying immunity to the highly contagious virus and developing an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

The science-led global healthcare company GSK recently announced that they are joining forces with global biopharmaceutical company Sanofi for an unprecedented vaccine collaboration to fight an unprecedented pandemic and defend as many people as possible from COVID-19. This unique strategic alliance among vaccine industry leaders brings together a valuable fusion of proven pandemic technologies and major manufacturing capacity – a powerful combination that has the potential to provide hundreds of millions of vaccine doses annually by the end of next year. Terms of the partnership will be finalized in the coming weeks.

GSK will contribute its adjuvant technology to the collaboration to produce more vaccine doses and protect more people. During a pandemic, using an adjuvant technology is significant since it may lower the amount of vaccine protein needed per dose while potentially preventing future outbreaks.

Sanofi will provide its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which is built on recombinant DNA technology. This technology has developed a precise genetic match to proteins identified on the virus’s surface, and the DNA sequence encoding this antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, the foundation of Sanofi’s U.S. licensed recombinant influenza product.

The two companies created a Joint Collaboration Task Force, co-chaired by David Loew, Global Head of Vaccines at Sanofi, and Roger Connor, President of Global Vaccines at GSK. Phase I clinical trials are expected to begin in the next few months and, if successful and subject to regulatory considerations, candidate vaccines will be available by the second half of 2021. GSK and Sanofi want to ensure that the vaccine is accessible and affordable to people worldwide.

In its ongoing commitment to global access and investment in future pandemic preparedness, GSK made their adjuvant technology available to other scientists and organizations working on COVID-19 candidate vaccines. Collaborating with companies and research groups around the world is critical when global demand indicates that numerous vaccines are needed. GSK does not expect to profit from COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic; any short-term profit will go to coronavirus-related research or long-term pandemic preparedness.

To discover medication for treating COVID-19, GSK has also partnered with Vir Biotechnology, Inc., a clinical-stage immunology company, in accelerating promising antibody candidates for SARS-CoV-2 into phase 2 clinical trials within the next three to five months. In addition to creating new testing capabilities through their labs and scientific expertise, GSK donated $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to aid the WHO and partners in preventing, detecting and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collaboration with competitors may not be a common factor in business models. But business is about being creative, adaptive and future-focused in finding solutions – actions that are needed now more than ever. Business is also about partnerships and people. Companies like GSK are proving that people come first.

Behind each business in North Carolina are the ideas, partnerships and people that fuel our state’s success. Behind each business is a story and a vision for the future. As the voice for business, the NC Chamber is committed to telling these stories and highlighting the organizations and people that keep our state moving forward. Behind the Business is a series of profiles featuring NC Chamber Cornerstone members doing great work in North Carolina. Interested in being featured? Contact communications@ncchamber.com.