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Sanofi to invest € 400 million in mRNA vaccine facility

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PARIS – Sanofi will invest some 400 million euros ($ 476.4 million) in research and development of next-generation vaccines using mRNA technologies, which were proven effective in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

The French pharmaceutical giant and its British counterpart GlaxoSmithKline surprised investors and customers late last year when they announced a one-year delay in the launch of their joint COVID vaccine, based on more conventional technology.

Since then, Sanofi has been committed to helping Pfizer and Moderna manufacture COVID-19 injections in an effort to help meet the huge demand for doses from the American pharmaceutical company.

Sanofi added Tuesday that its “mRNA Center of Excellence” will bring together around 400 employees and is expected to produce a minimum of six clinical candidates by 2025.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA technologies demonstrated the potential to deliver new vaccines faster than ever,” said Jean-Francois Toussaint, global director of R&D at Sanofi Pasteur.

“However, key areas of innovation such as thermostability and tolerability improvements will be critical in unlocking mRNA applications in routine vaccination against a broader set of infectious diseases and at all ages,” he added.

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The mRNA technology has proven to be effective and safe so far in the vaccine response to COVID-19, including in response to variants of the virus.

The latest, the Delta variant that was first found in India, is spreading at a rapid rate around the world, prompting governments to accelerate their vaccination programs.

French Health Minister Oliver Veran said Tuesday that the Delta variant accounted for about 20 percent of COVID cases in France.

Sanofi is also working on a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate with the American company Translate Bio, for which it has started clinical trials.

The two groups, who have been collaborating since 2018, also began a Phase I clinical trial earlier this year to evaluate an investigational mRNA-based vaccine against seasonal influenza.

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Last month, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline launched a late-stage human trial for a recombinant COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which they expect to be approved by the end of 2021.

This vaccine is based on one of the most established technologies in vaccines, which is used against the human papillomavirus, hepatitis B and whooping cough, among other pathogens, which aims to introduce laboratory-made proteins into the body to stimulate the immune system to develop a targeted defense against the virus. new coronavirus.

($ 1 = 0.8397 euros) (Information by Matthias Blamont and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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In-depth reports on the economics of innovation from The Logic, presented in association with the Financial Post.

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