Sanofi abandons mRNA COVID-19 vaccine efforts to focus on booster shot

French pharma giant shifts attention to booster after falling behind competitors in mRNA COVID-19 vaccine race.

The decision comes after the company fell behind in the development of the mRNA vaccine, with Pfizer and Moderna dominating the market. To date, Pfizer has administered approximately 1.5 billion doses worldwide - positioning the American big pharma as the biggest manufacturer of a COVID-19 vaccine across the developed world. According to Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi Pasteur’s head, with 24 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses expected to be administered by mid-2022 and with yearly vaccinations not required at this point, the company decided not to pursue further development for its vaccine. While earlier trials showed participants had an immune reaction to the virus, Triomphe added that further efforts would not have an immediate impact on public health, as the vaccine would most likely be released to the public too late.

However, the future is not looking bleak for the French company as it intends to use its resources to develop a vaccine that can be used as a booster. The shot will be developed with GlaxoSmithKline. “The question isn’t if but when we will require a booster,” added Triomphe. Sanofi had previously stated that it aims to invest $480 million annually into mRNA technology. The hope is that this investment will speed up the production of mRNA products as well as developing mRNA shots that will have increased stability at room temperature and result in fewer adverse events. Paul Hudson, Sanofi’s CEO stated, “Our goal is to unlock the potential of mRNA in other strategic areas such as immunology, oncology and rare diseases in addition to vaccines.”