British drug firms fight to be first in race to beat Covid: Glaxosmithkline teams-up with French rival Sanofi
British drug firms have put themselves at the centre of the battle against the coronavirus with plans for new treatments and vaccines.
Glaxosmithkline yesterday agreed a tie-up with French rival Sanofi to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
It came as Astrazeneca, Glaxo’s rival, announced it was investigating whether one of its cancer drugs could be adapted to treat virus victims.
Virus battle: Glaxosmithkline yesterday agreed a tie-up with French rival Sanofi to develop a Covid-19 vaccine
And shares in Anglo-French biotech firm Novacyt rocketed after its involvement in the UK’s testing regime grew, taking its gains this year to 3,300 per cent.
Glaxo’s shares rose 1.7 per cent after its announcement with Sanofi.
The partners, which are among the biggest vaccine producers in the world, said they could start working together ‘immediately’ and share technologies.
This includes Glaxo’s adjuvant technology, which allows smaller doses of vaccines to be more effective, and Sanofi’s DNA recombinant technology, which speeds up vaccine production.
Emma Walmsley, Glaxo’s boss, said: ‘By combining our science and our technologies, we believe we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine.’
Sanofi boss Paul Hudson added: ‘It is clear that no one company can go it alone.’
The tie-up was unveiled just days after Glaxo said it would set up a joint testing laboratory in Cambridge with Astra.
Astra yesterday said it was beginning clinical trials of blood cancer drug Calquence to assess its potential to help the most severely ill Covid-19 patients.
The virus is believed to trigger an over-reaction of the immune system in some patients, known as cytokine storm.
But Astra believes that Calquence could potentially help control this.
Amid the developments, shares in Novacyt rose by 30.1 per cent, or 113.5p, to 491p yesterday. They were just 13p at the start of 2020.
It came days after the firm announced it was working with Glaxo and Astra at the Cambridge testing lab.