Sanofi faces the rise of new competitors in vaccines

Posted on Dec 1, 2019 2021 at 19:02Updated Dec 1, 2019 2021 at 19:15

On the occasion of the day devoted to its R&D in vaccines, Sanofi affirmed its desire to remain a leader in this field, which it has made one of its three pillars of growth. “We are targeting a doubling of sales by 2025,” said Thomas Triomphe, who heads the activity at Sanofi, or some 9 billion euros. After years in which the vaccines branch relied mainly on income from pediatric vaccines and influenza, the French group set in motion in particular when confronted with its competitors armed with messenger RNA technology.


Regarding influenza, Sanofi considers that while the interest of messenger RNA technology should not be overlooked – it has itself launched a clinical trial using this technology – but that it is not enough on its own to take the advantage over conventional methods. Its development of the vaccine is faster, that of the mixture of viral strains is even faster. And this speed would make it possible to be better adapted. “On the basis of recent years, we see that the mixture of strains evolves too quickly, including during an epidemic”, underlines Jean-François Toussaint, director of R&D Vaccines. This is why, beyond RNA technology, Sanofi relies on machine learning capable of integrating masses of data to better predict the mixing of strains.

Another decisive element: tolerance. A vaccine for a disease such as influenza, deemed benign by the population cannot frequently have side effects such as those of current RNA vaccines against Covid. As for the universal vaccine, there is still nothing convincing to date. “We will therefore remain world number one in influenza thanks to a more diversified offer,” concluded Bill Averbeck, responsible for influenza vaccines.

Side pediatric diseases, Sanofi hopes to launch in 2023, its vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) responsible for bronchiolitis. Here too, this vaccine, taken over from AstraZeneca, uses an unusual technology since it is a monoclonal antibody. Preliminary Phase III results show nirsevimab is very well tolerated and prevents three out of four hospitalizations. It can be given to all children, including newborns, with an annual injection and at a cost compatible with a mass immunization strategy.

No combined influenza-Covid vaccine

But in a second step to grow Sanofi must take an interest in new diseases: it will be pneumococcal pneumonia, an area which is already largely covered by competition (Pfizer and Merck-MSD). Then in a second step the infections with chlamydia, causes of female infertility and finally acne thanks to the takeover announced today, of Origimm Biotechnology.

As for the long-awaited Covid vaccine, we will have before the end of the year the results of the Phase III trial and data on the boosters targeting the beta variant. Sanofi is no longer even targeting recalls but post-pandemic needs. And he is not considering a combined influenza-Covid vaccine.

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