UK announces COVID-19 vaccine deals with BioNTech/Pfizer and Valneva

The UK has secured 90 million doses of two different COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Valneva, with an option of 40 million doses if they check out in trials. 

There is no approved COVID-19 vaccine, but governments across the world are busy signing deals with developers to gain access should trial results check out. 

The announcements came as the scientific community held its breath waiting for news of a potential vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, with trial results due to be published by The Lancet medical journal. 

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization there are 23 potential vaccines in clinical trials and 140 in preclinical development. 

The UK has secured 30 million doses of an experimental vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer, and a deal in principle for 60 million doses of another vaccine from Valneva with an option of 40 million more doses if trials show it to be safe and effective. 

Later this month BioNTech and Pfizer are due to begin phase 2b/3 development of a vaccine candidate selected from four in early clinical trials. 

France’s Valneva said the vaccine could be manufactured at its facility in Livingston, Scotland, and in Solna, Sweden. 

Financial details were not disclosed. 

The deals follow a previously announced agreement with AstraZeneca for 100 million doses of the vaccine being developed in partnership with the University of Oxford. 

The AZ/Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced in clinical development, with a phase 3 trial ongoing and results from a phase 1 trial due very soon. 

The government has also helped to fund a coronavirus vaccine developed by a team at London’s Imperial College, which is in an early clinical trial. 

GSK announces vaccine tie-up with CureVac 

GlaxoSmithKline separately announced a strategic collaboration with Germany’s CureVac to collaborate on mRNA vaccine and monoclonal antibody research in infectious diseases. 

The deal will not include CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine, but will see the UK pharma make an equity investment of £130 million ($161 million) and an up front payment of £104 million ($129 million). 

CureVac will be eligible to receive development and regulatory milestone payments of up to £277m ($343 million), commercial milestone payments of up to £329m ($408 million) and tiered royalties on product sales.  

The agreement for the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of up to five mRNA-based vaccines and monoclonal antibodies targeting infectious disease pathogens. 

The companies said they will combine their knowledge of mRNA technology to develop vaccines against infectious diseases. 

Although the technology is not yet proven, many of the COVID-19 vaccines are based around mRNA technology that tells the body to produce antigens expressed by a virus. 

This in turn produces an immune response, and RNA vaccines have the advantage of being faster and cheaper to produce than with older techniques, allowing companies to respond quickly to emerging diseases. 

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