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Last Updated : Sep 30, 2020 08:30 AM IST | Source: Reuters

GlaxoSmithKline CEO optimistic COVID-19 vaccine widely available in 2021

GSK is contributing adjuvants, efficacy boosters that play a vital role in many vaccines, in several development alliances for potential future vaccines against the novel coronavirus that has claimed more than a million lives globally.

Reuters

The chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, the world's largest maker of vaccines, said she was optimistic the industry will be able to make an immunisation against COVID-19 widely available next year.

"I share the optimism that we will have solutions next year. The challenge here is getting to the scale that is required," GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said at an online event of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Tuesday.

GSK is contributing adjuvants, efficacy boosters that play a vital role in many vaccines, in several development alliances for potential future vaccines against the novel coronavirus that has claimed more than a million lives globally.

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The group's most advanced project is with French partner Sanofi and the two have said they hope to get approval for their candidate next year.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Walmsley stressed the industry's unprecedented speed of developing an immunisation did not compromise safety because trials were not smaller than usual and regulators and companies were taking steps in parallel that were previously done consecutively.

"We are condensing timelines that can take 10 years into two years. But people should feel very reassured that the way we do that is (due to) a completely different level of collaboration with regulators," the CEO said.

"We are putting our funds at risk, governments have put funds at risk so that we don’t restrict the scale, which is really important in a trial for vaccines," she added.
First Published on Sep 30, 2020 08:17 am
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