The drug maker Sanofi Pasteur is entering the race to develop a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus sweeping through China, the company announced Monday.
David Loew, Sanofi’s global head of vaccines, announced the company would partner with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority—known as BARDA—to make a vaccine using the company’s recombinant DNA platform.
Loew said the company’s previous work to develop a vaccine for SARS—a cousin virus—gives it a leg up on this work.
“Addressing a global health threat such as this newest coronavirus is going to take a collaborative effort, which is why we are working with BARDA to quickly advance a potential vaccine candidate,” said Loew.
“While we are lending our expertise where possible, we believe the collaboration with BARDA may provide the most meaningful results in protecting the public from this latest outbreak,” he said.
Loew said the company expects to have a vaccine candidate—a prototype—to test in vitro within six months and could be ready to test the vaccine in people within a year or 18 months.
Loew noted the DNA recombinant platform is already used to make flu vaccine licensed in the U.S., which means regulators are familiar with it. Sanofi also has large-scale manufacturing capacity for these types of vaccines.
Sanofi is the second major vaccine maker to announce it will try to make a vaccine against the new virus, which has infected over 70,000 people, mostly in China. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine division, Janssen, has also announced it will try to make a vaccine.