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Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are teaming up to develop a coronavirus vaccine

Two of the world’s biggest vaccine makers are joining forces to tackle the coronavirus as the number of confirmed infections approaches 2 million worldwide.

Sanofi will combine its experimental coronavirus vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s adjuvant technology, which may allow more doses of a shot to be produced, the companies said Tuesday. The drugmakers said they plan to start human trials in the second half of this year, with the goal of having a vaccine available by the second half of 2021 if the studies are successful.

The collaboration brings together a pair of pharmaceutical giants with manufacturing might in the race to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine. Dozens of companies from Moderna Inc. to Johnson & Johnson, along with universities, are pursuing a shot to halt the rapidly spreading pathogen. Even if developers can meet a target of having a vaccine available in 12 to 18 months, there are concerns about whether they will be able to make enough doses.

J&J said last month that it would begin a $1 billion-plus effort with the U.S. government to develop and produce a vaccine. The company said it plans to begin building manufacturing capacity for a billion doses and could have some ready for emergency use as soon as January.

Sanofi jumped into the fray in February, betting that earlier work in pursuit of a SARS vaccine could accelerate its effort. The Paris-based company joined with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a government agency that funds R&D efforts for health threats.

In a collaboration with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, London-based Glaxo agreed the same month to share its know-how with other vaccine developers, starting with the University of Queensland in Australia.

Adjuvants are added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response and create stronger protection. They may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, raising the likelihood of having a shot that can be produced in large quantities, Sanofi and Glaxo said.

They also pledged in the statement to make any vaccine that is developed affordable and accessible worldwide.

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