France’s Sanofi to make Covid vaccines from rival Pfizer/BioNTech

French drug maker Sanofi has said it will help manufacture 125 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by its rivals Pfizer and BioNTech, while its own vaccine candidate faces delays.

Germany-based BioNTech will initially produce the vaccines at Sanofi facilities in Frankfurt, starting in the summer, according to a Sanofi statement. The company did not reveal financial details of the agreement.

The French government has been pressing Sanofi to use its facilities to help make vaccines from its rivals, given high demand and problems with supplies of the few vaccines that are already available.

“We are very conscious that the earlier vaccine doses are available, the more lives can potentially be saved,” Sanofi chief executive Paul Hudson said.

Sanofi and British partner GlaxoSmithKline will start a new phase two trial of their Covid-19 vaccine next month, Sanofi said.

The two companies said last month that their vaccine will not be ready until late 2021 because its effectiveness in older people needs to be improved.

The European Union has been widely criticised for its slow rollout of a mass vaccination programme.

The bloc has approved using vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and its regulatory agency on Friday was to consider approval for the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.