GSK and Sanofi announce delay in vaccine rollout

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi have announced a delay in their coronavirus vaccine programme after trials showed a low immune response in older adults.

The two pharmaceutical companies will begin a second-phase study with an improved candidate in February, with hopes of rolling out a more effective jab by the end of 2021.

The UK’s vaccine taskforce has secured access to 60 million doses of the protein adjuvant vaccine.

Interim results of the phase 1/2 study showed an immune response comparable to patients who recovered from Covid-19 in adults aged 18 to 49, the two companies said on Friday.

But they reported an “insufficient response” in older adults, “likely” due to an insufficient concentration of the antigen – which is the protein that stimulates the body’s immune response against the virus.

British pharmaceutical company GSK and its French partner Sanofi said they are planning further clinical trials with an improved antigen formulation.

The candidate is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of next year pending successful development.

Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, said the results of the study were “not as we hoped”, adding: “It is also clear that multiple vaccines will be needed to contain the pandemic.

“Our aim now is to work closely with our partner Sanofi to develop this vaccine, with an improved antigen formulation, for it to make a meaningful contribution to preventing Covid-19.”