Sanofi and GSK have reached an agreement with the UK government for the supply of up to 60 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine candidate, developed by Sanofi in partnership with GSK, is based on the recombinant protein-based technology used by Sanofi to produce an influenza vaccine, and GSK’s established pandemic adjuvant technology.

Sanofi is leading the clinical development and registration of the vaccine, with a Phase I/II study scheduled to start in September followed by a Phase III trial by the end of this year.

The firms believe regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021 if the trials are successful.

Sanofi and GSK said they are also are scaling up manufacturing of the antigen and adjuvant to produce up to one billion doses per year overall.

“We believe that this adjuvanted vaccine candidate has the potential to play a significant role in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the UK and around the world,” said Roger Connor, President of GSK Vaccines

“We thank the UK Government for confirmation of purchasing intent, which supports the significant investment we are already making as a company to scale up development and production of this vaccine.”

“Through this agreement with GSK and Sanofi, the Vaccine Taskforce can add another type of vaccine to the three different types of vaccine we have already secured,” commented Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Government’s Vaccines Taskforce.

“This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, if any, of the different types of vaccine will prove to generate a safe and protective response to COVID-19. Whilst this agreement is very good news, we mustn’t be complacent or over optimistic.”