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Britain has signed a supply deal for up to 60 million doses of a possible COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline , it said on Wednesday, its fourth such arrangement.
No vaccine has yet been approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has killed more than 659,000 people and unleashed economic havoc worldwide.
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Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Sanofi and GSK, which had first teamed up in April, confirmed in a statement that regulatory approval for their vaccine could be won by the first half of 2021 if clinical data was positive.
A woman is seen wearing a protective face mask in London, Britain. File/Reuters
Britain has moved early in striking vaccine supply deals, and ministers have stressed the importance of securing supplies of a range of candidates.
"The fact remains that there are no guarantees," said business minister Alok Sharma.
"In the meantime, it is important that we secure early access to a diverse range of promising vaccine candidates, like GSK and Sanofi, to increase our chances of finding one that works."
Last week Britain struck deals for 30 million doses of the experimental BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, and a deal in principle for 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine.
That followed a previously announced pact with AstraZeneca for production of 100 million doses of its potential vaccine, being developed in partnership with Oxford university.
With no working vaccine against COVID-19 yet developed, Britain now has 250 million doses potentially available.
The department of health said in a statement, “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for use."
The development of a coronavirus vaccine or treatment will be key to allowing the postponed Tokyo 2020 games to open in a year's time, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said Wednesday.
Russia has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month. Some scientists said they fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
Infections have been reported in 210 countries since the first cases were identified in China in December last year and British aid minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said assisting the poorest nations now would help prevent the virus returning to the United Kingdom.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) expressed its sincere condolences to Pakistan and Afghanistan and their peoples, as well as to the families of the victims of this tragedy. It also wished the injured a speedy recovery.
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The initiative reflects the wise leadership's keenness to provide assistance to affected families and alleviate their suffering ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan.