GSK and Sanofi begin coronavirus vaccine trials in the UK and US

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International pharmaceutical giants GSK and Sanofi have today announced that they have begun clinical trials of their coronavirus vaccine.

The two firms have revealed that 440 adults would be given doses of their vaccine at 11 sites across the US. The results are scheduled to be published in December – with more trials scheduled to take place over the next few months.

The Anglo-French partnership uses the same protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s influenza vaccines.

Thomas Triomphe, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Sanofi said: “The initiation of our clinical study is an important step and brings us closer to a potential vaccine which could help defeat COVID-19. Our dedicated teams and partner continue to work around the clock as we aim to deliver first results in early December. Positive data will enable a prompt start of the pivotal phase three trial by the end of this year.”

This follows the news last week the British firm AstraZeneca also began clinical trials in the UK.

The trial, called NCT04507256, will evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of AZD7442.1 The trial will include up to 48 healthy participants in the UK aged 18 to 55 years and is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the US Department of Defense, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, said: “This trial is an important milestone in the development of our monoclonal antibody combination to prevent or treat COVID-19. This combination of antibodies, coupled to our proprietary half-life extension technology, has the potential to improve both the effectiveness and durability of use in addition to reducing the likelihood of viral resistance.”


£500m funding for quick result COVID-19 test trials

A new £500m funding package will be invested in next generation testing technology and increased testing capacity, the Health and Social Care Secretary announced today.

To date, large-scale COVID-19 testing system has carried out more than 16 million tests and this new funding for quick result test trials and repeat population testing will help take the programme to the next level.

A new, community-wide trial in Salford will launch imminently to assess the benefits of repeat population testing. Existing, promising trials in Southampton and Hampshire, using a saliva test and a rapid 20-minute test, will also be expanded using the new funding.

By using this cutting-edge technology to widely roll out rapid tests, chains of transmission will be broken almost immediately by delivering on-the-spot results. Successful trials will then be expanded and rolled out more widely.

The funding will also be used to further extend capacity for existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing across the country. All positive results will be passed to the NHS Test and Trace system, to trace contacts, prevent further transmission, and save lives.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Testing is a vital line of defence in combating this pandemic. Over the past 6 months we have built almost from scratch one of the biggest testing systems in the world. We need to use every new innovation at our disposal to expand the use of testing, and build the mass testing capability that can help suppress the virus and enable more of the things that make life worth living. We are backing innovative new tests that are fast, accurate and easier to use and will maximise the impact and scale of testing, helping us to get back to a more normal way of life.

“I am hugely grateful for the work being done on this national effort to strengthen our ability to tackle this virus. While we work on a vaccine we must innovate our way out of this crisis.”

Trials across the country will now be launched or extended, with the latest starting in Salford today.

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