Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Salako, has commended the partnership between pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and CureVac Global.
The duo had announced a partnership in a new €150m collaboration to jointly develop next-generation mRNA vaccines for COVID-19.
Reacting to the news, Salako said, “The lesson here is just that as a country, I think we should start thinking of how to have our vaccine. Not just producing them, we need to learn to use them and also improve them to whatever standard we want.”
GlaxoSmithKline says the vaccine has the potential to address multiple emerging variants of the virus.
CureVac Global is a biopharmaceutical company in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, with more than 20 years of expertise in developing and optimising the versatile biological molecule for medical purposes.
Through the new exclusive co-development agreement, the two companies would contribute resources and expertise to research, develop, and manufacture a number of novel mRNA vaccine candidates, including multivalent and monovalent approaches.
In a press release made available to PUNCH HealthWise, GSK Chief Executive Officer, Emma Walmsley said the development programme would commence immediately, with the target of introducing the vaccine in 2022, subject to regulatory approval.
“We believe that next generation vaccines will be crucial in the continued fight against COVID-19.
“This new collaboration builds on our existing relationship with CureVac. That means we will combine our scientific expertise in mRNA and vaccine development to advance and accelerate the development of new COVID-19 vaccine candidates together.
“At the same time, we will also support the production of CureVac’s first generation vaccines with the manufacture of 100 million doses in 2021,” Walmsley said.
According to him, the increase in emerging variants with the potential to reduce the efficacy of first generation COVID-19 vaccines requires acceleration of efforts to develop vaccines against new variants to keep one step ahead of the pandemic.
“These next generation COVID-19 vaccines may either be used to protect people who have not been vaccinated before, or to serve as boosters in the event that COVID-19 immunity gained from an initial vaccination reduces over time.
“In addition, the collaboration will assess the development of novel mRNA vaccines to protect against multiple respiratory viruses, including COVID-19,” he said.
He further stated that the collaboration would further build on CureVac’s first generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV, which is currently in Phase 2b/3 clinical trial and on CureVac’s ability to optimise mRNA for a strong immune response, manufacturability, and stability at standard 2-8°C cold chain conditions for vaccines.
Meanwhile, NIMR DG Salako said the partnership was a welcome development, noting that that there are over 100 COVID-19 vaccines at different clinical trial stages at the moment.
“The lesson here is just that as a country, I think we should start thinking of how to have our vaccine. Not just producing them, we need to learn to use them and also improve them to whatever standard we want.
“Here at NIMR, we are also working on it. You know vaccine is not something you cook yesterday and start eating today.
“It takes time to come up with a quality vaccine. But I heard our people at Redeemer University are close to Phase 3 of the COVID-19 vaccine, which I think is good,” he said.
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