By Analou De Vera
Sanofi Pasteur Philippines said that it is still in the “early stage” of developing a vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and that its vaccine availability will not likely to happen within a year.
Sanofi Pasteur Philippines Country Manager Dr. Jean Antoine Zinsou said that they are not yet at the stage of having clinical trials “involving volunteers.”
“We are at the early stage of the development of our vaccine and it is not only later on that we’re gonna have some study involving individuals to test the immunogenicity of this candidate vaccine, and also to assess the safety and efficacy of this vaccine. But we won’t get there before next year,” Zinsou told reporters on Friday.
“Based on our projections, we can be confident enough in saying that within 18 to 24 months we should have a vaccine ready for registration,” he added.
Zinsou said that it is important not to “raise too much hope” on the vaccine’s development as there are “a lot of uncertainties along the way.”
“It’s our responsibility not to raise too much hope. We need to be honest with the timelines. We need to acknowledge the fact that there are uncertainties, but at the same time, we are developing this vaccine but we are also developing manufacturing capacity –and that is our part of the work,” he said.
“We are dealing with biologicals. It means we are dealing with living materials which are viruses. Yes, we can project some timelines but there is no guarantee because we don’t know how the virus will react. When you develop a vaccine, there is always a risk of failure,” he added.
Zinsou said that they are already in partnership with their rival, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), for the vaccine development for COVID-19.
If they succeed in developing the vaccine, Zinsou said that they are eyeing to produce 600 million to one billion doses per year in order to “match the international requirement and there is no reason on our side to leave any country who will need it aside.”
“The world is open to this numerous number of candidate vaccines because we know out of this hundreds of vaccines that are [being] developed, only a few will reach the safety and efficacy requirement to be put on the market,” he said.
While the vaccine is being developed, Zinsou suggested that countries should start identifying how the vaccine will be administered to a specific population that is considered “more at risk.”
“Each country needs to have a clear picture of epidemiological situations to define which population is more at risk and which population should be prioritized when the vaccine is available. Because we know, we won’t be able to vaccinate everybody at the same time. So, we will have to define who needs to be prioritized,” he said.
“It is up to the country to define these parameters and to get prepared to implement a vaccination program,” added Zinsou.