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While there are more than 150 vaccines in development worldwide, one of the more recent candidates could be a frontrunner within a few short months. Despite more sensational study results from competitors with an earlier start, Sanofi Pasteur has re-engineered their seasonal flu vaccine (FluBlok) to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus with promising results from their early Phase 1 and 2 studies.

Sanofi’s vaccine candidate is a recombinant vaccine, where genetic material from the surface protein of the SARS-Cov-2 is used to first generate copies of the viral protein in laboratory host cells. These viral proteins are purified into a vaccine that is injected into the host which then generates a targeted immune response to this specific protein. What further separates this Sanofi vaccine from others in development is that their model involves an additional compound that gives an added boost to the body’s natural immune response, thereby requiring smaller doses of vaccine- and potentially reducing the likelihood of any side effects. Current testing is underway to determine whether a protective immune response can be achieved by a one or two dosing regimen.

By utilizing a mass-production vaccine model already in use for the seasonal flu, Sanofi is the only vaccine in development using technology from an approved platform. They recently announced a $2.1 billion collaborative agreement with GlaxoSmithKline as part of “Operation Warp Speed” to produce 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020. With Phase 3 trials now expected to start in September, Sanofi has caught up to its competitors’ earlier clinical trials, and if effective, has hopes to produce up to 1 billion vaccine doses in 2021 through the FDA’s emergency use pathway.

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