THE UK government has struck a deal with pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for a new coronavirus vaccine.
The deal gives the UK early access to 60 million doses.
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What is the new coronavirus vaccine?
The new vaccine being developed by GSK and Sanofi is based on the DNA of the virus.
It takes recombinant protein-based technology used to produce the seasonal flu vaccine, which is then combined with GSK’s established pandemic adjuvant technology.
Sanofi has said that regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021 if trials are successful.
Human clinical studies of the vaccine will begin in September followed by a Phase 3 study in December 2020.
In the meantime, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing to produce up to one billion doses a year overall.
Sanofi is making the vaccine itself.
To do so, scientists have changed the DNA of the virus to make it harmless but otherwise identical to the real virus.
It will effectively act as a dummy to trigger and train your immune system.
This causes the body to generate antibodies designed specifically for that virus, which then destroy the real virus when it is encountered.
The Sanofi vaccine differs from the Oxford vaccine, which is made from a virus (ChAdOx1), which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees.
The chimp cold virus has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to replicate and infect humans.
GlaxoSmithKlein’s adjuvant technology
An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the dose, according to the US CDC.
In other words, adjuvants help vaccines work better.
GSK’s press release explains: “GSK’s pandemic adjuvant can reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which allows more vaccine doses to be produced, contributing to protecting more people.
“Additionally, an adjuvant can enhance the immune response and has been shown to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections.”
Who will get it?
The first people to get the vaccine will be frontline heath and social care workers, the elderly and the most vulnerable.
The rest will be distributed later on to those who need it most.
VACCINE Q AND A
Here’s a quick Q&A about vaccines:
CAN we get a vaccine?
Research to find a vaccine is happening continuously, with about 100 studies around the globe. Trials need to show the vaccine is safe.
WHAT’S the UK doing?
A potential vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford has begun its human trials — the first in Europe.
HOW will it be produced?
The Oxford study has linked up with UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to mass produce the potential vaccine on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic.
WHEN will one be available?
Most experts reckon by mid-2021 but the Oxford team says researchers will know if their jab works by this summer.
IS there a drug to treat the coronavirus?
Early results of a US trial suggest antiviral drug remdesivir cuts the number of days patients take to leave hospital by almost a third.
HOW does it work?
Remdesivir, originally developed to treat Ebola, targets a cell enzyme the virus needs.
IS it a game changer?
Potentially. Dr Anthony Fauci, leading member of the US coronavirus task force, said: “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.” But a second trial in China showed no benefit.
WHO is looking for a drug cure?
There are around 300 clinical trials going on worldwide.
Are there any other vaccines?
While there is no fully tested coronavirus vaccine out yet, the UK government has invested in four different trials, all of which look promising.
With the announcement on July 29, the Government has now secured early access to four different types of immunisation and a total of 250 million doses.
On July 20, the UK secured 90 million doses of a potential vaccine to make sure Brits are first in line for a jab.
The deals include vaccines being developed by pharmaceutical giants BioNtech and Pfizer as well as the firm Valneva.
This is in addition to the 100 million doses of a vaccine being developed by Oxford University with AstraZeneca.