Sanofi's vaccines arm Sanofi Pasteur has hooked up with South Korea's SK Chemical Co to develop and commercialise a new jab against pneumococcal infection "to address global healthcare needs".

As per the terms of the alliance, Sanofi will make an upfront payment of $23 million to SK, and both companies will co-invest in the development of an innovative pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).

If successful, SK will produce the vaccine, while Sanofi will take care of its global launch.

Under the deal, profits outside of Korea, where SK holds exclusive commercialisation rights, are to be shared between the firms.

According to the World Health Organisation, pneumococcal diseases -- such as pneumonia, meningitis and febrile bacteraemia - are a major, global public-health problem; it is estimated that about 14.5 million serious episodes occur annually, resulting in about 826,000 deaths in children aged one-59 months.

WHO recommends that PCVs are used in every country, and through this alliance Sanofi is hoping to grab a slice of a market that is worth around $4 billion.