GlaxoSmithKline Plc will expand production of vaccine efficacy boosters, or adjuvants, to produce 1 billion doses in 2021 for use in shots for COVID-19, the British drugmaker said on Thursday.
The London-listed company said it was in talks with governments on backing for the programme, which would effectively allow for a scaling up of production of future successful vaccines for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
GSK is one of several companies in the race to develop a vaccine for the respiratory illness that currently has no treatment and has already killed about 350,000 people.
The British drugmaker is working on its own COVID vaccine with Sanofi .
Adjuvants have been shown to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
GSK's adjuvant can reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which would allow for more vaccines to be made, the British drugmaker said.Experts have predicted that a successful vaccine will take over a year to develop, and companies and governments are pouring money into dozens of programmes as the only viable solution that will allow the world to escape durably from coronavirus lockdowns and get economies moving again.