The Trump administration’s “Manhattan project” for a COVID-19 vaccine has topped its biggest award given only two weeks ago to Novavax, Inc with its latest grant of $2.1 billion to pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, and partner Sanofi Pasteur to “speed up clinical development and manufacturing” of its recombinant vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus.
The deal clocks in at over $400 million more than the program’s previous investment of $1.6 billion earlier this month. Most of the GSK/Sanofi grant will be used for clinical trials and the rest to “scale-up and delivery” of 100 million vaccine doses destined for the U.S. population. The deal also offers the USG an option to buy a “supply of 500 million doses over the long term.”
This latest infusion of tax-payer money into Big Pharma’s hands by the Trump administration comes on the heels of the rumored failure of an early vaccine candidate. Moderna’s SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine has received nearly a billion in federal funds, but recent reports of the company’s CMO, Tal Zaks, selling almost all of his shares as the vaccine is set to begin late-stage trials have sparked speculation that the “pre-fusion stabilized Spike protein” vaccine is dead in the water.
Neither Novavax or Moderna, however, have ever had a single product go to market despite years in the business. GSK and Sanofi, in contrast, have plenty. Sanofi produces an FDA-approved flu shot and GSK, producer of some of the most recognizable pharmaceutical brand names like Binaca and Paxil, also produced a flu vaccine for the H1N1 “bird flu” called Pandermix.
Nevertheless, the fact that these large pharmaceutical firms have had some market success doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of the safety of their vaccines.Big Pharma Giants GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Receive $2.1 Billion to Develop COVID Vaccine