Sanofi, GSK say bivalent COVID vaccine confers protection

Sanofi, GSK say bivalent COVID vaccine confers protection

ERIC PIERMONT AFP PARIS LONDON Late-stage data on an experimental COVID 19 vaccine from Sanofi and GSK showed that the shot confers protection against the Omicron variant of the virus, the companies said on Friday.

The so-called bivalent vaccine targets the Beta variant first identified in South Africa as well as the original strain of the virus.

READ MORE: WHO panel backs Omicron-adapted vaccine as a booster dose.

In a trial involving 13,000 adults, the vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 64.7 percent against symptomatic COVID and 72 percent efficacy against infections specifically caused by the Omicron variant.

The results were stronger when used in people who previously had COVID. The vaccine generated an efficacy rate of 75.1 percent against symptomatic COVID and 93.2 percent in Omicron-confirmed symptomatic cases, the companies said.

Sanofi-GSK's vaccine is the first candidate to demonstrate efficacy in a placebo-controlled trial in an environment of high Omicron variant circulation, Sanofi said in a statement.

In morning trading, Sanofi's Paris-listed shares and GSK's London-listed shares were up more than 1 percent.

The bivalent vaccine showed potential in two trials in order to protect against the main variants of the disease that concern the Omicron BA. 2 strains when used as a booster shot.

Sanofi and GSK, two of the world's biggest vaccine makers, are hoping to gain a foothold in the market for next-generation variant-focused COVID shots, after falling behind competitors like Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech in the original race to contain the pandemic.

The companies said on Friday that the new data supporting the bivalent vaccine will be submitted to regulatory authorities with the hope of making the shot available later this year.

The European Medicines Agency has reviewed the original COVID vaccine by Sanofi and GSK.

The companies believe that the bivalent vaccine molded on the now-supplanted Beta variant will provide broad protection against future viral strains on the basis that Beta expresses similar mutations across multiple variants of concern, including Omicron.