COVID-19 – Turning Rivals into Partners

HBI Blog / COVID-19 – Turning Rivals into Partners

It took an unprecedented pandemic like COVID-19 to turn pharmaceutical companies into partners, who were, otherwise, nothing less than fierce rivals. Together, they have come up with vaccine production in billions during the time of global need.

The latest tie-up involves US giant Merck. They have agreed to help produce the one-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.


Into the Partnerships

After the coronavirus outbreak in China in late 2019, it became prominent that the virus was going to be a major threat to the world without a vaccine or treatments. Millions of people around the world were affected by the outbreak, and the loss that occurred is beyond words.

In April 2020, at the peak of the first wave, France’s Sanofi teamed up with British peer GSK to develop a vaccine based on one of their molecules combined with its partner’s adjuvant, a booster to strengthen the vaccination. However, the vaccine had some testing problems and is expected to arrive in early 2022.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, Sanofi announced that it would help US rival Pfizer to make the vaccine – itself the product of a joint effort with Germany’s BioNTech, in the next few months.

Other alliances of this type have multiplied, like Swiss giant Novartis and Pfizer/BioNTech, and Bayer, which will be producing the vaccine developed by CureVac, the German biotech firm also working with GSK.

US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that Merck had agreed to help produce the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, describing the situation as the “type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War II”.

Everything comes for a price

The companies, which have already developed the vaccine, like Pfizer/BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson, have full intention to guard their vaccine formula over several years and at considerable cost. Bayer, Merck, Novartis, and Sanofi will be involved in the last stage of the entire process, checking and packing the vaccines into vials for use.

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