Leaks that UK Government Concerned about U.S. Vaccine & Drug Hoarding: Looking for Vaccine Deals in Europe

Leaks that UK Government Concerned about U.S. Vaccine & Drug Hording Looking for Vaccine Deals in Europe

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are close to a £500m deal to supply the British government with 60 million doses of their SARS-CoV-2 investigational vaccine. A business department within the UK government seeks an option to procure the vaccine from the two giant “pharmas” should their candidate actually work in human clinical trials which commence in September. That America has been gobbling up Remdesivir supplies heightens Anglo concerns.

American Buying Frenzy

That America’s rapidly buying up of Remdesivir supplies from California-based Gilead may have prompted government official fears that perhaps under the current “wheel and deal” ethos in Washington the UK had best secure other potential supplies, reported The Sunday Times.

Britain’s Second Deal?

Should the UK move forward on this proposed deal this would be its second deal. It has already secured 100 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, for example. According to The Sunday Times, Sanofi wasn’t’ available for comment and a spokesperson for GSK declined to comment. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the UK business ministry was quoted “The Government’s Vaccines Task Force is actively engaging with a wide range of companies both in the UK and abroad to negotiate access to vaccines.” Clearly the UK government has an imminent need to secure more product.

Quality over Speed

In the meantime both Sanofi and GSK have reported that their particular emphasis in vaccine development remains prioritizing “quality over speed in developing a vaccine.” Sanofi is working on two possible COVID-19 vaccine candidates and one of them leverages GSK adjuvant which could potentially boost the candidate’s efficacy. The French company has declared it maintains the capacity to produce 1 billion doses a year reports The Sunday Times. Of course, one could also make the argument that Sanofi and GSK are just slower than AstraZeneca and Pfizer that made some aggressive bets on partnerships early.


The U.S. has been active in putting “skin in the game” early with large payments such as $1+ billion to AstraZeneca (Oxford vaccine); $483 million into Moderna, $70+ million into Inovio Pharmaceuticals as well as a large payment to Sanofi. The U.S. deal with Sanofi caused some tension back in France as the British CEO suggested Europe was too slow in making financial moves to support vaccine development on the continent.   

Now the EU (and Germany) have become more aggressive and are in discussions with Sanofi as well as with the UK to build a buying block.

The Leaders

The leaders are showcased in TrialSite News on Sunday July 5, 2020. They include the following:

·         CanSino Biologics (moving to Phase 3 on Chinese military personnel)

·         AstraZeneca/Oxford (sites in UK, South Africa and Brazil transitioning to Phase 3)

·         Moderna (Phase 3 may start in July although the protocol in slight delay)

·         BioNTech/Pfizer (currently conducting two Phase 1/2 clinical trials & good preliminary data)

·         Inovio Pharmaceuticals (perhaps the dark horse in the race as planning a Phase 3 later in the summer)