Sanofi, GSK Say Covid Booster Works Better Against Omicron

Sanofi, GSK Say Covid Booster Works Better Against Omicron

Published Jun 13, 2022 in
Author by Deirdre Hipwell

Sanofi and GSK Plc, the pharma giants that fell behind in the race to develop a Covid-19 shot, said their experimental booster vaccine delivers a more powerful immune response against coronavirus variants than their competitors’. 

The shot raised antibody levels in adults already inoculated with messenger RNA vaccines more than the additional doses from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, and demonstrated potential to protect against variants including omicron, GSK and Sanofi said in a statement Monday, citing data from two trials. 

Shares in Sanofi and GSK were little changed in early trading. 

The companies point to the risk of new variants and waning immunity that could lead to an increase in demand for additional booster shots in some populations. The “next-generation” vaccine includes GSK’s pandemic adjuvant — a substance that enhances the immune response to vaccines — and is modeled on the beta variant.

In one late-stage trial, the Sanofi-GSK booster induced a significant increase in antibodies against multiple variants compared to the original parent virus booster. In particular, it generated double the number of neutralizing antibodies against omicron BA.1 and BA.2. 

A second independent study of 247 people, conducted by the Assistance Publique – Hopitaux de Paris, showed that the shot induced a higher immune response than both Pfizer-BioNTech’s booster and Sanofi-GSK’s first-generation booster, both of which target the original parent strain of the virus. 

All the data from the two trials will be submitted to regulatory authorities in the coming weeks with the aim of making the shot available later this year. 

Sanofi and Glaxo, two of the vaccine industry’s biggest players, have been trying to show they still have a role to play in the fight against Covid after a dosing error early in the pandemic forced them to restart a clinical trial.

The Sanofi-Glaxo inoculation has some potential advantages over most of the existing Covid shots. It can be kept at refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to transport and store than the mRNA shots. But the companies face new rivals and a market with rising supplies and declining demand. 

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The two companies have developed their booster in parallel to ongoing regulatory reviews of their first-generation vaccine shot. Earlier this year they found their vaccine protects against severe disease and hospitalization.

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