The UK government has signed up for 60 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine - but when will it become available?

The UK government has signed another deal for a coronavirus vaccine, securing up to 60 million doses of a new experimental treatment (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK government has signed another deal for a coronavirus vaccine, securing up to 60 million doses of a new experimental treatment.

The government had already signed a deal for 90 million doses of two other vaccines, as well as 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine, which is being developed by AstraZeneca.

Who is developing the new vaccine?

The new vaccine is being developed by drug companies GSK and Sanofi, who are working in partnership, but Sanofi is leading the clinical development.

It’s based on protein-based technology which is usually used by Sanofi to produce a flu vaccine, alongside GSK's pandemic technology.

When could this vaccine be available?

Sanofi has said that regulatory approval of the vaccine could be achieved by the first half of 2021 - if trials are successful.

Sanofi and GSK are also scaling up the manufacturing process in order to produce up to one billion doses a year in total.

Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, said: "We thank the UK government for confirmation of purchasing intent, which supports the significant investment we are already making as a company to scale up development and production of this vaccine."

Kate Bingham, Chair of the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce, explained how it was important that the UK secure a range of potential vaccines, as it’s not yet known which, if any, of them will work.

Ms Bingham said: “Through this agreement with GSK and Sanofi, the Vaccine Taskforce can add another type of vaccine to the three different types of vaccine we have already secured.

“This diversity of vaccine types is important because we do not yet know which, if any, of the different types of vaccine will prove to generate a safe and protective response to COVID-19. Whilst this agreement is very good news, we mustn’t be complacent or over optimistic.”

Ms Bingham added that “we may never get a vaccine,” but if the UK does then “we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.”

Which other countries could get this vaccine?

A Covid-19 vaccine is in high demand, with different governments across the globe vying to secure a deal for vaccines and investing money into new treatments.

The new GSK and Sanofi vaccine has already been at the centre of international politics after Sanofi chief executive, Paul Hudson, said in May that the US government had "the right to the largest pre-order because it's invested in taking the risk".

Mr Hudson changed his stance after the French Prime Minister at the time, Edouard Philippe, said that it was “non-negotiable” that this vaccine should be accessible for all.

GSK and Sanofi explained in their latest announcement that they were committed to making the vaccine available across the globe.

Thomas Triomphe, executive vice-president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur, said: "With our partner GSK, we are pleased to co-operate with the UK government as well as several other countries and global organisations as part of our ongoing efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine and make it available as quickly as possible.”

Which vaccines has the UK already secured?

The UK government has already secured access to vaccines that use three different approaches.

These are:

  • 30 million doses of BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine - injects part of the coronavirus' genetic code
  • 60 million doses of Valneva - uses an inactive version of coronavirus
  • 100m doses of the Oxford University vaccine - made from a genetically engineered virus