Sanofi eyes 1.4B doses of coronavirus vaccines

A WORKER fills vials at a Sanofi lab. — SANOFI PASTEUR

SANOFI PASTEUR is seeking to produce as many as 1.4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of next year as part of a plan to boost its manufacturing capacity to meet global demand, a company official said.

The drug maker is planning to produce a billion doses under its first of two candidate vaccines, Jean-Antoine Zinsou, country general manager at Sanofi Pasteur Philippines, said at BusinessWorld‘s annual economic forum on Wednesday.

The vaccine entered the first and second phases of clinical trials in September and is expected to start phase 3 by yearend, he told the online forum.

The company is also seeking to make as many as 360 million doses under its second candidate vaccine, which is expected to enter the first two phases by yearend, Mr. Zinsou said.

Sanofi partnered with GlaxoSmithKline and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the first candidate vaccine. It also partnered with Translate Bio, a clinical-stage messenger RNA therapeutics company, for the second vaccine. Mr. Zinsou said manufacturers should be ready to produce massive quantities of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines.

“You can develop the vaccine and the vaccine can be ready for registration and even have a market authorization, but if there is no manufacturing capacity, it is useless,” he said. “The development of the vaccine is something but the production at a sufficient scale is also extremely important,” he added.

Mr. Zinsou said each government should come up with a vaccination preparedness plan that includes prioritization of those who need to be vaccinated once a vaccine becomes available.

Vaccination plans should also cover logistics and communications.

Mr. Zinsou said that there are more than a hundred candidate vaccines that have to undergo a rigorous process.

“We are not competing with one another, we have billions of people to vaccinate, probably more than one vaccine will be needed,” he said.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 1,392 coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 424,297.

The death toll rose by 27 to 8,242, while recoveries increased by 328 to 387,266, it said in a bulletin.

There were 28,789 active cases, 84% of which were mild, 8.3% did not show symptoms, 4.9% were critical, 2.6% were severe and 0.26% were moderate.

Caloocan City reported the highest number of new cases at 77, followed by Cavite and Laguna at 73 each, Davao City at 62 and Quezon province at 60.

DoH said 10 duplicates had been removed from the tally, while nine recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Nine laboratories failed to submit their data on Nov. 25, it added.

The coronavirus has sickened about 60.8 million and killed 1.4 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 42.1 million people have recovered, it said.

DoH and the Trade department this week signed a joint administrative order imposing a price cap on swab tests for the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on Wednesday said private laboratories may charge P4,500 to P5,000, while their state counterparts must have a flat rate of P3,800. The clinical trials for Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as treatment for the coronavirus started on Nov. 20 with eight participants, DoH said on Wednesday. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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