Drugmaking giants Sanofi (SNY) - Get Report and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - Get Report will be receiving as much as $2.1 billion in federal money to help develop and mass-produce an experimental Covid-19 vaccine treatment, the companies announced Friday.
Part of the Trump administration’s "Operation Warp Speed" effort to find a cure for the coronavirus, the funding will support clinical trials and manufacturing while allowing the U.S. to secure 100 million doses of the shot, if successful.
The U.S. government has an option to receive an additional 500 million doses longer term.
Sanofi and Glaxo signed a similar deal earlier this week with the U.K. government, which has also been focusing on working with private sector drugmakers to both find a viable vaccine candidate and secure supplies of it.
Sanofi said it plans to begin accelerated early- and middle-stage clinical tests in September, followed by a final-stage study by the end of 2020. If the results are successful, the companies can seek U.S. regulatory approval in the first half of 2021.
Their vaccine candidate is based on technology Sanofi uses to make influenza vaccine and Glaxo’s adjuvants, which enhance the body’s immune response.
Sanofi and Glaxo are following a number of other developers in the coronavirus vaccine race. The University of Oxford and partner AstraZeneca (AZN) - Get Report, Moderna (MRNA) - Get Report. and Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report are among the front-runners in developing a successful vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech last week reached a $1.95 billion deal to supply their coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. government, while Novavax (NVAX) - Get Report, which has yet to commercialize a medicine or vaccine, earlier this month announced a $1.6 billion deal.
The U.S. also has pledged as much as $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca through its Operation Warp Speed effort.
In May, Sanofi said it was selling its stake in Regeneron (REGN) - Get Report, whose stock price has ballooned in value in recent months as investors have bet that its efforts to produce a vaccine to treat coronavirus will prove successful.