By James Sim0ns-
UK citizens will receive early access to 90 million doses of 2 COVID-19 vaccine candidates should they prove safe and effective, the Department for Business Energy, and Industrial Strategy has said.
The government said it would support and provide infrastructure to Novavax in running a Phase 3 clinical trial in the UK, and plans to manufacture their vaccine in the UK with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.
In addition, the British government will also co-fund a global clinical trial with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson to establish how effective their vaccine could be in providing long-term immunity against COVID-19
The UK has now secured access to six different vaccine candidates as part of the government’s strategy to build a portfolio of promising new vaccines should any be found to be safe and effective.
New in-principle agreements have also secured 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine and 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine.
Ministers have also agreed in principle to co-fund a ground-breaking global clinical study of the Janssen vaccine. The next phase of clinical trials is expected to begin later this year to examine whether providing 2 doses of their vaccine candidate to participants provides long-term protection against coronavirus.
Among the vaccine’s to be available is the Janssen’s vaccine being made available on a not-for-profit basis during the emergency pandemic to both the UK and the rest of the world to ensure the global supply and equitable access of a vaccine.
Supported by the government, Novavax will conduct a Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine working with National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to access their clinical network and expertise.
Novavax also plans to manufacture some of the vaccine using FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’s facilities in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees. The aim is to ensure that once available, the vaccine can be supplied to the British public as soon as possible.
Provided the vaccines are safe and successful in clinical trials, both could be delivered to the UK in mid-2021. They would be given first to priority groups such as frontline health and social care workers, ethnic minorities, adults with serious diseases, and the elderly.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
”The government’s strategy to build a portfolio of promising vaccine candidates will ensure we have the best chance possible of finding one that works.
Today’s agreements will not only benefit people in the UK but will ensure fair and equitable access of a vaccine around the world, potentially protecting hundreds of millions of lives.
While we are doing everything we can to ensure the British people get access to a successful vaccine as soon as possible, nobody is safe until we are all safe so global cooperation is absolutely critical if we are to defeat this virus once and for all.
With today’s announcement, the UK has now secured access to 6 different candidates, across 4 different vaccine types, reflecting the government’s strategy to ensure the UK has a supply of vaccines should any of these prove safe and effective”.
These include the University of Oxford’s vaccine being developed with AstraZeneca, as well as agreements with the BioNTech/Pfizer alliance, Valneva and GSK/Sanofi Pasteur.
In addition, a deal with AstraZeneca will provide the UK with access to treatments containing COVID-19 neutralising antibodies to protect those who cannot receive vaccines, such as cancer and immunocompromised patients.
The UK is actively working with the vaccine alliance GAVI, The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organisation and a group of other countries to help buy vaccines as well as to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines to low-income countries.
Kate Bingham, Chair of the Government’s Vaccines Taskforce, said:
”The sooner we start the two-dose study of the Janssen vaccine the sooner we will know whether the vaccine can provide durable, long term protection against COVID-19 infection. The vaccine is based on technology used in its recently approved preventative Ebola vaccine designed to induce long-term immunity in individuals over one years’ old.
We are delighted to partner with Janssen that has demonstrated their long-term commitment to global health and vaccines by providing their COVID-19 vaccine across the world at no profit.
It is also encouraging that Novavax’s recent clinical data shows their vaccine triggers an immune response greater than that in patients who have recovered from the disease”.
Paul Stoffels, M.D. Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson said:
We are delighted to work with the UK government on the global Phase 3 clinical programme for our COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and to ensure it is made available to citizens around the world, if proven to be effective with a good safety profile.
Ending the current COVID-19 pandemic will take a global effort, and this agreement is an important example of how we can begin to address this significant challenge through collaborative research.
Earlier this month, the UK government and Valneva made a multi-million-pound joint investment in a vaccine manufacturing facility in Livingston, West Lothian, which will be at the heart of efforts to produce a new COVID-19 vaccine. This is in addition to the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) which is currently under construction in Oxfordshire, and the new vaccine manufacturing plant in Braintree, Essex recently acquired by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.