Update on GSK actions to support the global response to COVID-19

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Emma Walmsley
Emma Walmsley, CEO, GSK

“We are deeply committed to supporting the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. Using GSK science and technology, we are helping develop potential new vaccines and new medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19. We will also make our resources available to help scale the global response, whether that be through manufacture of a vaccine, laboratory space to conduct research or financial support to provide vital equipment to health workers.

“Across GSK, thousands of people are working hard to make sure we keep supplying our much needed medicines, vaccines and healthcare products to patients and consumers, and continue with essential research and development work. I am very proud of their response to this unprecedented situation.

“We also pay tribute to all those working on the frontlines of this pandemic. Defeating COVID-19 requires a collective effort from everyone working in healthcare. We strongly believe that collaborations between scientists, industry, regulators, governments and healthcare workers will help protect people and deliver global solutions to this pandemic.”

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GSK is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and is supporting global efforts to tackle the virus. Since the outbreak, we have been actively exploring ways to help, with our science and expertise, alongside protecting the health and wellbeing of our people and managing our global supply chains to support patients and consumers who depend on our products.

Supporting research and production of candidate COVID-19 vaccines

GSK’s initial response to the outbreak of COVID-19 has to been to make our vaccine adjuvant technology available to scientists and organisations working on candidate vaccines. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protection of more people.

Since announcing partnerships with the University of Queensland and Clover Biopharmaceuticals, we have expanded our collaborations and are now working with five partner companies and research groups across the world, including in the USA and China.

Early indications of the adjuvant’s benefit have been reported in the first pre-clinical experiments by one of the collaborations. GSK expects data to be reported from the various collaborations over the next 3 months and these data will inform next steps for clinical development of the candidate vaccines.

GSK is evaluating further collaboration opportunities with several other companies and institutions. The company is also exploring options to share available manufacturing capacity, to help provide scale manufacturing and production for an eventual vaccine.

What is an adjuvant?

An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it can reduce the amount of antigen required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and made available to more people.

Screening and research into new medicines

GSK is entering into the new collaborative research effort, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The aim of the Accelerator is to bring pharmaceutical companies and expert academic institutions into coordinated research programs, with the aim of bringing the most promising molecules forward that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19. GSK will contribute by making available compounds from its libraries for screening for activity against COVID-19.

In addition, GSK is evaluating its marketed pharmaceutical products and medicines in development to determine if any could be used beyond their current indications in response to the pandemic. This includes medicines with potential direct anti-viral activity and those with possible utility in prevention or treatment of secondary complications of COVID-19. The company is also evaluating options to make available its specialised R&D laboratory space to help in research and testing of COVID-19.

Helping frontline health workers and offering expertise

GSK is donating $10 million to The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created by the UN Foundation and WHO, to support WHO and partners to prevent, detect, and manage the pandemic, particularly where the needs are the greatest. Amongst its objectives, the fund will enable distribution of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health workers. GSK is also donating surplus reagents to support diagnostic testing to several countries and is preparing to do the same for surplus PPE.

GSK has also initiated new volunteering processes for people working at the company, to enable those with medical expertise to provide support to frontline health workers, whilst at the same time ensuring we protect supply and development of our medicines and vaccines. Initiatives have also been started to use salesforce personnel to help with delivery of PPE and testing equipment, and for specialists, such as procurement leaders, to work with national governments on developing supply chains.

Taking action to deliver high-demand consumer healthcare products

GSK Consumer Healthcare is prioritising actions in its supply chain to deliver more products that are in high demand, due to COVID-19. This includes increasing production for pain relief brands such as Panadol and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements such as Emergen-C and Centrum.

Further actions and updates

We will provide regular updates on our progress and our efforts to support the global response to COVID-19. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will take further actions to develop our response to the pandemic, including ideas and support for long-term, global pandemic preparedness. In doing so, we will continue to put the needs of patients and our people first at all times.