GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has initiated a partnership with China-based Clover Biopharmaceuticals, in order to help develop its protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate (COVID-19 S-Trimer).
Under the new agreement, GSK says it will provide Clover with its pandemic adjuvant system for further evaluation of S-Trimer in preclinical studies, in hopes that Clover could potentially rapidly scale-up and produce large-quantities of a new coronavirus vaccine.
The news comes as Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, is warning that people flying home from any areas quarantined by the Italian government should self-isolate, whether they show symptoms or not, admitting he is "pretty worried” about the situation.
On top of this, the Department of Health has recently added Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Northern Italy to the places on the coronavirus critical list, meaning they will now be recommended to follow clinical advice.
The virus, yet to be classified a pandemic but labelled a global health threat by the world health Organisation (WHO), belongs to a family of enveloped RNA viruses that include MERS and SARS, both of which caused serious human infections of respiratory system. Up to now, coronavirus - also known as COVID-19 - has infected over 75,000 people and has caused over 2,100 reported deaths worldwide.
GSK initially announced plans to make its pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform technology available at the beginning of February; a technology that is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone.
“We are proud to contribute to cutting edge research from scientists at Clover Biopharmaceuticals in China as part of our strategy to make our adjuvant technology available to selected partners who have a promising vaccine candidate against the newly emerged coronavirus.” said Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer of GSK Vaccines.
“The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protect more people.”
In recent weeks Johnson & Johnson (J&J) also announced a “multi-pronged” response to the virus, which included efforts to broadly collaborate with others in order to screen a library of antiviral therapies, hoping to identify compounds with antiviral activity against the virus.
Using its AdVac and PER.C6 technologies - the same technologies that were used in the development and manufacturing of Janssen's investigational Ebola vaccine - J&J revealed plans to also try and rapidly upscale production of the optimal vaccine candidate.
Sanofi has also announced plans to leverage some of its previous development work for a SARS vaccine in hopes to tackle the outbreak.