GSK to Make Adjuvants for Several Covid Vaccines

05.06.2020 -

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to make 1 billion doses of its AS03 adjuvant available to several developers of Covid-19 vaccines and plans to increase capacity to supply enough product by 2021.

The UK pharma giant will manufacture, fill and finish adjuvant for use in vaccines at sites in the UK, US, Canada and Europe.

GSK said it believes can make a “significant contribution” in the fight against Covid-19 as its adjuvant can reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, thus allowing more doses to be produced, as well as enhancing the immune response and the efficacy of a future Covid vaccine.

To date, the company has formed several collaborations with vaccine developers in North America, Europe and China and it said discussions with potential partners on further collaborations are in progress.

Deals have been made so far with two Chinese companies, including Clover Biopharmaceuticals and Innovax Biotech, and GSK is cooperating with French drugmaker Sanofi on an adjuvanted recombinant DNA vaccine against Covid-19.

The drugmaker has also agreed to make its adjuvant technology available to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for the international group’s supported programs, including one at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Glaxo’s AS03 adjuvant technology was used in the H1N1 vaccine Pandemrix developed in response to the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic and linked tentatively to the increased incidence of narcolepsy in children, especially in the Nordic region. 

The company told the Reuters news agency the narcolepsy cases were triggered by the body’s confusing a protein in the wild type H1N1 flu virus with a human protein relevant in regulating the sleep cycle. It was highly unlikely, it added, that there would be any implications for a future Covid-19 vaccine, because the H1N1 virus itself was to blame and not the adjuvant.

Given the “unprecedented need to develop Covid-19 vaccines,” GSK has started manufacturing the adjuvant at risk but said it is in discussions with governments and global institutions about financial backing for production and supply.

The pharma major said it is committed to making its adjuvant available through mechanisms that offer fair access for people across the world, with world’s poorest countries a key part of these efforts.