A New Covid Vaccine That’s Effective Against Omicron Could Hit The Market This Year

Topline

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are hoping to launch their latest Covid vaccine later this year after trials found it to be particularly effective against the omicron variant, promising news for the pharmaceutical giants as they push to make up lost ground and capture part of the maturing coronavirus vaccine market .

Key Facts

The bivalent vaccine — a type of shot with two targets, in this case the original coronavirus strain and the beta variant — was safe, well tolerated and demonstrated 65% efficacy against symptomatic infections in adults when used as a first and second shot, Sanofi said .

Among adults who had already been infected with Covid, the shot was 75% effective against symptomatic infection, Sanofi said, mentioning its trial of more than 13,000 people.

The vaccine was particularly effective at protecting against omicron infections, Sanofi said, 72% when used as a primary vaccine and 93% when used in those who have already had Covid.

The results, particularly the strong protection among those who have already been infected with Covid, complement findings from the companies’ trials testing the shot as a booster released earlier this month.

Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president at Sanofi, said the findings underscore the value of the company’s beta-based booster in a world where most people have been infected with Covid at some point, adding that the companies look forward to completing their submissions to regulators to get the shot approved.

Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, said he hopes the shot will be available “later this year” and believes the vaccine has the “potential to make an important contribution to public health” as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Key Background

The early race to develop Covid-19 vaccines was dominated by new technology and, excluding Pfizer, which partnered with Germany’s BioNTech to make its shot, did not include any of the world’s biggest vaccine makers. More traditional vaccine technologies and pharmaceutical heavyweights like Sanofi and GSK may have stumbled in early efforts to develop a vaccine, but they are just now gaining ground. Sanofi’s Triomphe said that while mRNA — the technology underpinning Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna’s shots — has proven “speed to market,” its trials are now showing the efficacy of protein-based shots. There is still a sizable part of the vaccine market left for latecomers, particularly as countries develop strategies for booster campaigns and move away from shots based on the original strain of coronavirus. In particular, most major Covid vaccine makers — including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax — have been working on specific shots to the omicron variant to address waning effectiveness against the variant.

Further Reading

Sanofi, GSK Covid Booster Triggers ‘Strong Immune Response’ Against Multiple Variants — Including Omicron (Forbes)

Why the three biggest vaccine makers failed on Covid-19 (Financial Times)

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