Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have struck a $2.1 billion deal with the U.S. government to develop and manufacture a vaccine for the coronavirus. The deal, the largest yet from the federal government for a vaccine, is part of Operation Warp Speed, the effort to develop multiple COVID-19 vaccines simultaneously.
The European drugmakers said Friday in a statement that more than half the funding will support further development of the vaccine. The remainder will be earmarked for manufacturing and delivery of an initial 100 million doses.
The deal comes days after Pfizer signed a $1.9 billion pact with the federal government to provide 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer said Americans will receive the vaccine for free. For its part, GlaxoSmithKline said it "does not expect to profit from COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic phase," although it didn't specify what cost, if any, would be borne by consumers.
"The portfolio of vaccines being assembled for Operation Warp Speed increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline began working on a virus vaccine in April. Sanofi, which is leading the clinical development of the vaccine, said on Friday it expects Phase 1 and 2 studies to begin in September, with a Phase 3 study by year-end. The companies could request U.S. regulatory approval in the first half of 2021, assuming the results are positive, they added.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to surge in parts of the U.S., with both California and Florida — the two states with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country — setting new records for single-day coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. The U.S. has also surpassed 150,000 deaths from the virus.
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said their agreement with the U.S. government includes the option to increase the vaccine supply to an additional 500 million doses.