Sanofi to help Johnson & Johnson produce vaccine and launch new trial

Published on : 22/02/2021 – 15:14

Sanofi will produce in France the vaccine against the Covid-19 of its American competitor Johnson & Johnson, as it is also preparing to do for Pfizer-BioNTech, failing to be able to offer at this stage its own vaccine for which it has launched a new clinical trial this Monday February 22 on volunteers.

« Sanofi to support multiple stages of manufacturing Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine from Q3 2021 “, The time to acquire, install and qualify its facilities for the viral vector vaccine of the American competitor, the French laboratory announced in a press release.

The pharmaceutical group will take care of the formulation and filling of the bottles at its French site in Marcy-l’Étoile, near Lyon, ” in 2021, at a rate of approximately 12 million doses per month. Our ambition is to do as much as possible, if we can do more why not “Thomas Triomphe, executive vice-president of Sanofi Pasteur, the group’s vaccines branch, told AFP.

« A very good news »For the Élysée

An announcement hailed by Emmanuel Macron: ” We must together accelerate vaccine production through industrial partnerships. While continuing its research, Sanofi will support several stages of manufacturing the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson to quickly meet European and global demand », Reacted the French president on Twitter.

On February 3, the Head of State announced that several French sites would start production of vaccines from the beginning of April, including those of Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech. In order, he added, to be able to vaccinate all adult volunteers ” by the end of the summer ».

« We had worked actively for the production of vaccines on this site Marcy-l’Etoile, welcomed Pascal Lopez, FO central union representative at Sanofi. ” All the preparatory work had started a lot upstream with a view to producing a Sanofi vaccine and today, this work is not lost, that’s what is gratifying. »

Listen: Job cuts at Sanofi: “a reorganization plan that shocks employees when the results are there”

« Proof of solidarity »

Sanofi had already agreed to manufacture from the summer, in its German factory in Frankfurt, more than 125 million doses of the messenger RNA vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

The urgency of the pandemic has given rise to unexpected alliances between companies in the sector. The Swiss Novartis, which is not launched in the vaccine race, is also preparing to produce for BioNTech.

For Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson, this agreement with Johnson & Johnson ” shows Sanofi’s determination to contribute to the collective effort to end this health crisis as quickly as possible “And to do” proof of solidarity ».

« Our top priority: manufacturing our own vaccine »

These nudges come after the French government asked Sanofi to make its production lines available to speed up the availability of doses, eagerly awaited in an attempt to curb a pandemic that has killed nearly 2.5 million people in the world.

« Our top priority remains the manufacture of our own vaccine. If we do this operation with BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson, it’s because we made sure that we also have the capacity to produce our own vaccine. », Insisted Thomas Triomphe.

« Refined formulation »

Because if it suffered setbacks, the French laboratory is determined to succeed. He also announced on Monday that he was starting a new clinical study called ” phase 2 »Of its main vaccine candidate developed with the British GSK and using recombinant protein technology. The French pharmaceutical firm hopes to make it available in the fourth quarter. It was originally scheduled for summer 2021.

« This new phase 2 study will assess the potential of a refined formulation of antigens to achieve an optimal immune response, particularly in older adults », Explains Thomas Triomphe.

The previous phase 1/2 study concluded in December of an insufficient immune response in older adults, ” presumably due to insufficient concentration of antigens ».

Read also: Coronavirus: Sanofi announces the failure of one of its clinical trials

The new trial will be conducted on 720 volunteers over the age of 18 in the United States, Honduras and Panama. If the data are positive, a phase 3 study, the last step before applying for a marketing authorization, should start ” in May-June ” in one ” large number of countries on several continents », According to the executive vice-president of Sanofi Pasteur.

According to Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi has also started research on new variants and “ be able to prepare different formulations to go as quickly as possible when needed ».

Second vaccine in development

The laboratory is also developing a second vaccine candidate with the American company Translate Bio, based on the more recent messenger RNA technology – used by already authorized vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.

« Preclinical data has shown that two injections of the mRNA vaccine induce the production of a high concentration of neutralizing antibodies “, According to Sanofi, which intends to start testing the vaccine on human volunteers, in a phase 1/2, in March.

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