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A shower of funding for anti-covid vaccines

Less than a year to develop an antidote to the virus, against ten years on average: the announcements of effectiveness of candidate vaccines against covid-19 are increasing. A scientific feat made possible in particular thanks to very significant funding.

Less than a year to develop an antidote to the virus, against ten years on average: the announcements of effectiveness of candidate vaccines against covid-19 are increasing. A scientific feat made possible in particular thanks to very significant funding.

(AFP) – Billions invested around the world. It is estimated that creating a new vaccine costs a billion euros, from clinical development to building a factory. Just to finance a phase 3 clinical study, the last before marketing, several hundred million euros are needed, underlines Marie Humblot-Ferrero, specialist in the sector for the Boston Consulting Group.

However, in the case of covid-19, there was an “unprecedented mobilization of the vaccine industry”, never known until now, she says, which gives “several tens of billions of euros to the ‘global scale’. This financial mobilization takes place through bilateral agreements or international organizations, and can take place at various stages of development, either to support research or to ensure vaccine supply through pre-orders.

The United States, the biggest funders (by far). They positioned themselves very early on and hit very hard, via the “Warp speed” operation, which aims to accelerate the development of vaccines (but also other therapeutic tools), as well as to ensure their updating. disposition. Several vaccine candidates were selected as being the most promising, resulting in substantial support.

As of March, the American Johnson & Johnson received more than 450 million dollars, to which was added another billion later against 100 million doses of vaccine. As of April, the United States granted almost half a billion dollars to the biotech Moderna to finance clinical trials. In total, the American company received $ 2.5 billion in public money. Another American biotech in the race, Novavax, had funding of $ 1.6 billion, against 100 million doses.

The United States has also promised almost $ 2 billion to Pfizer and BioNtech, for 100 million doses. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are not left out, with $ 1.2 billion for their vaccine candidate, in exchange for 300 million doses reserved. Finally, the French company Sanofi was also chosen with its British partner GSK, for funding of $ 2 billion for 100 million doses.

For potential vaccines alone, more than ten billion dollars have therefore been contributed by the United States. The country has also invested heavily in logistics and distribution. With agreements to extend in particular the production capacity of manufacturers of pharmaceutical vials and syringes.

The European Union has pre-ordered from laboratories up to almost two billion doses in total, if we add the options taken for additional doses. In detail, the European Commission signed with six laboratories. The latest, Moderna, to provide up to 160 million doses of vaccine. Before that, the EU had already signed with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (up to 400 million doses from each), the Sanofi-GSK duo (up to 300 million doses), Pfizer-BioNTech (up to 300 million doses) and the German CureVac (up to 405 million doses).

In all, a European source told AFP recently, more than 2.1 billion euros of European money will finance these contracts – not counting that of Moderna – but the distribution of these sums is confidential. In contrast to the United States, Europe seems to have fallen behind, however, according to several leaders of pharmaceutical companies who criticized it for its administrative burden.

Other bilateral agreements. Other countries have signed agreements directly with laboratories, such as Canada, Israel … Or the United Kingdom, which has ordered 355 million doses in total from 7 laboratories. Here too, the financial details of the contracts are not known. Cepi: mix of public and private. The Coalition for Innovations in Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) funds nine programs to promote research and development of new anti-covid vaccines.

In all, by mid-October, she had received $ 1.3 billion. Funding comes from States or private donations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nestlé company or the Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui. – Gavi: the Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi) co-manages Covax, the mechanism for purchasing and distributing vaccines created to ensure that they will not be reserved for rich countries.

By mid-November, she had received $ 2.1 billion in pledges. Among the main contributors are states, including 120 million euros from France. But there are also private contributors. Again, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated over $ 150 million. Or even TikTok ($ 10 million).


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