Sanofi, Janssen join fight to develop coronavirus vaccine
Federal health officials on Tuesday said they are working with French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary to develop a vaccine to combat the deadly coronavirus.
HHS announced the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will partner with Sanofi to leverage the company's previous work investigating a possible SARS vaccine. In a separate statement, HHS also said it would use its existing relationship with Janssen Research & Development to work on a coronavirus vaccine and medicines that can reduce the severity of the illness.
Sanofi stated Tuesday it plans to further investigate whether an advanced pre-clinical SARS vaccine candidate worked on in the mid-2000s can be used to protect against COVID-19. The company said that work may provide a faster route to developing a coronavirus vaccine since SARS and COVID-19 are caused by viruses from the same family of coronaviruses that can cause respiratory disease.
"Addressing a global health threat such as this newest coronavirus is going to take a collaborative effort, which is why we are working with BARDA to quickly advance a potential vaccine candidate. While we are lending our expertise where possible, we believe the collaboration with BARDA may provide the most meaningful results in protecting the public from this latest outbreak."
David Loew, global head of vaccines at Sanofi
Sanofi will use an egg-free, recombinant DNA technology method to produce its vaccine candidate once it is ready for testing. Recombinant DNA has been used to manufacture flu vaccine since 2013 in the U.S. The technology can scale up production of a vaccine more quickly than the traditional, egg-based method of vaccine manufacturing, which takes approximately six months to make enough doses to meet the demand for flu vaccine each season.
Janssen first announced it was working with BARDA last week to develop a vaccine as part of the company's "multi-pronged response" to the outbreak.
More than 73,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed since the virus first emerged from Wuhan, China, in December, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, resulting in more than 1,800 deaths. Nearly 800 cases have occurred across 25 countries outside of China.
Currently there are no approved vaccines or treatments for the new coronavirus.