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Pfizer’s competitors are lining up to make its COVID-19 vaccine

February 23, 2021, 9:00 PM UTC

Sanofi’s work on a COVID-19 vaccine hit a speed bump last fall that delayed the drugmaker from having a product on the market in early 2021, so it has pivoted to help out in another way.

The company has agreed to help make the vaccine developed by rival Pfizer. Starting in June, it will use a Frankfurt production line to perform a crucial step in making 125 million doses. This comes less than a month after Novartis agreed to use its manufacturing facilities to help make Pfizer’s vaccine.

The unusual move underscores the critical nature of getting COVID vaccines to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. And drug companies aren’t just rallying around Pfizer. Endo International is helping Novavax produce its shot.

The collaboration doesn’t mean other drug companies are taking themselves out of the vaccine race. Earlier this month, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline restarted a trial of their COVID-19 vaccine after correcting the formulation of the shot, which was weaker than planned in the previous trial. If results are good, that vaccine could be available by the end of the year.

Sanofi has also agreed to make a plant in France available to Johnson & Johnson for the formulation and filling of about 12 million doses a month of that company’s COVID shot, assuming it gains regulatory clearance.

Other companies could soon follow the lead. The Wall Street Journal reports Merck and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries are talking with competitors about assisting in their efforts after their own coronavirus programs produced underwhelming results.