French drugmaker Sanofi has agreed to produce 125 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to speed up distribution.
The company announced Wednesday that it will give BioNTech access to its German plant in Frankfurt. At the facility, Sanofi will help pack and fill doses of the vaccine with the aim of delivering them this summer.
Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said the company is “conscious” of the fact that lives can be saved by getting vaccines out as quickly as possible.
“Since our main vaccine is a few months late, we asked ourselves how we could be of assistance now,” Hudson told Le Figaro newspaper.
Addressing vaccine shortage
Hudson said Sanofi’s decision to help Pfizer is intended to help mitigate shortages and delays in the vaccine rollout process.
“Although vaccination campaigns have started around the world, the ability to get shots into arms is being limited by lower than expected supplies and delayed approval timelines owing to production shortages. We have made the decision to support BioNTech and Pfizer in manufacturing their COVID-19 vaccine in order to help address global needs, given that we have the technology and facilities to do so,” Hudson said.
Sanofi is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline on a vaccine, but it’s still in the trial phase. A global Phase 3 study could start in the second quarter, and the vaccine likely won’t be ready until late 2021. The companies are currently working on improving the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.