French pharma giant Sanofi has bowed to pressure from the French government and vowed to produce over 125 million doses of rivals Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine in an extraordinary development in the pharma industry.
Amid a slew of delays and a weak trial showing in December – which cited the need to improve efficacy among older recipients – Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline will begin phase 2 trials of their own Covid-19 vaccine next month, but do not expect to reach regulatory approval and production phases until the end of 2021.
CEO Paul Hudson has announced that “in order to be helpful as of now,” his company has decided to lend a hand to the global vaccination effort. In order to do this, Sanofi facilities in Frankfurt will begin production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by August 2021.
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The total monetary value of the deal has not yet been disclosed publicly.
Sanofi faced pressure from the French government to use its facilities to produce vaccines, despite them belonging to their rivals. A combination of extraordinarily high demand and supply and distribution issues with the ongoing vaccine rollout spurred the decision to acquiesce to the demands.
“While our utmost priority remains to advance our two Covid-19 vaccine programs, we recognize that some companies are facing challenges with their production,” a Sanofi spokesperson said.
“Therefore, where we have the right manufacturing capabilities, without compromising other essential medicines and vaccines, and where we believe we can make a difference, we are stepping forward to do more for the fight against Covid and show solidarity across the industry.”
Pfizer and BioNTech are reportedly targeting production of two billion doses of coronavirus vaccine by the close of 2021.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca, another vaccine producer, has suffered manufacturing delays that will significantly impact its first-quarter deliveries to Europe.
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