Vaccine Giant Glaxo Joins Global Race to Combat Coronavirus

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(Bloomberg) -- One of the world’s largest vaccine makers is bringing its technology to the battle against the coronavirus spreading across China and the world.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said they would work to accelerate the creation of a vaccine. The goal is then to provide many vaccine doses rapidly, according to a statement Monday.

The project will rely on GSK’s adjuvant system, designed to enhance the body’s immune response and create a stronger and longer lasting protection against infection. Developing a preventive and confirming it’s safe and useful in humans could take 12 to 18 months, Thomas Breuer, GSK Vaccines chief medical officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Gaining access to the pharma giant’s technology is a “huge step forward” in developing a vaccine against the virus, Richard Hatchett, chief executive officer of Oslo-based CEPI, said in the statement.

Glaxo is among drugmakers hoping to harness new approaches to develop vaccines much faster than in the past. Pharmaceutical companies including Moderna Inc. say they have begun work on a vaccine against the coronavirus even as the outbreak continues to spread.

Health officials say a version might be available for the first stages of human testing in as little as three months. But developing an effective vaccine generally takes years.

CEPI will coordinate ties between Glaxo and coalition-backed groups that are interested in testing their vaccine platform with the British pharma company’s technology, according to the statement. The first agreement was signed between Glaxo and the University of Queensland in Australia.

Separately, the U.K. government said it is committing 20 million pounds ($26 million) to fund new vaccines to tackle the coronavirus and future infectious diseases.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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