China’s Clover in Research Venture With GSK on Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate

FILE PHOTO: The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) logo. REUTERS/Loriene Perera

Feb 24 (Reuters)China’s Clover Biopharmaceuticals said on Monday it will work with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline on a research tie-up that will develop the Chinese company’s protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate “COVID-19 S-Trimer”.

Fears of a coronavirus pandemic grew on Monday after sharp rises in new cases reported in Iran, Italy and South Korea but China relaxed restrictions on movements in several places including Beijing as its rates of new infections eased.

Clover, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel biologic therapies, said GSK will provide it with its pandemic adjuvant system for further evaluation of the vaccine candidate in preclinical studies.

GSK is already working with developers by providing a technology that could make their vaccines more potent. The drugmaker is collaborating with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to contribute towards the effort of developing a vaccine for the coronavirus outbreak.

The use of adjuvants or agents allow for production of more vaccine doses and hence would increase availability to more people.

“The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose,” Thomas Breuer, Chief Medical Officer of GSK Vaccines, said.

Drugmakers racing to find a vaccine or effective treatment for the deadly new coronavirus in China have, however, cautioned that they have a long way to go, countering reports of supposed breakthroughs.

At least a dozen drugmakers are working on vaccines or antivirals and other treatments to help those infected with the fast-spreading contagion.

GSK’s Breuer said earlier this month that it will take at least 12 to 18 months to find a vaccine or effective treatment.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Bernard Orr)