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HHS Engages Sanofi’s Recombinant Technology for COVID-19 Vaccine
February 20, 2020

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Washington, D.C.

February 18, 2020

Racing to develop a vaccine against the 2019 COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has engaged Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines global business unit of Sanofi.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of ASPR, will provide expertise and reallocated funds to support the vaccine’s development. Sanofi will use its egg-free, recombinant DNA platform to produce a recombinant COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The technology produces an exact genetic match to proteins of the virus. The protein’s DNA will be combined with DNA from a virus harmless to humans, and used to rapidly produce large quantities of antigen which stimulate the immune system to protect against the virus. The antigens will be separated and collected from these cells and purified to create working stocks of vaccine for advanced development.

“Flexibility and scalability are cornerstones of rapid response to an emerging infectious disease,” said BARDA Director Rick A. Bright, Ph.D. “Using this proven technology, we can pivot immediately to address this new global health threat. Our goal is a licensed vaccine to provide long-term health security against this latest virus and prevent future coronavirus outbreaks.”

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This expanded collaboration with Sanofi is BARDA’s second program to focus on developing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the past few weeks. There is currently no approved vaccine, treatment, or diagnostic for COVID-19 infections; however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to enable emergency use of a diagnostic test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BARDA also is working with counterparts across the government, including within HHS and with the Department of Defense. The team is reviewing potential vaccines, treatments and diagnostics from across the public and private sectors, particularly products in development for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), to identify promising candidates for development and licensure to detect, protect against or treat COVID-19 infections.

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