Sanofi is ditching the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine after rivals’ success

September 29, 2021: -On Tuesday, Sanofi is dropping plans for its mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine because of the dominance achieved by BioNTech-Pfizer, and Moderna uses the technology to fight the pandemic, the company said.

The move highlights the challenges of competing with pioneer BioNTech, which rose from obscurity through its alliance with pharma major Pfizer in the previous year. They have delivered close to 1.5 billion doses to become the Western world’s largest Covid-19 vaccine maker.

French healthcare group Sanofi will focus on efforts with British partner GlaxoSmithKline to bring another Covid-19 vaccine candidate to market based on the conventional protein-based approach, where mass trials are ongoing.

On Tuesday, the decision to drop clinical development of a shot based on mRNA, or messenger RNA, acquired as part of its takeover of Translate Bio, came despite positive Phase I/II study interim results announced where participants’ blood readings showed a robust immune reaction.

Sanofi said the read-out encouraged it only to pursue the technology as a potential vaccine against influenza and other diseases, which gives up on the area of Covid-19 because of the strong market presence of the two approved mRNA shots.

“The results are significant as they show us that the platform we acquired works,” Thomas Triomphe, head of the Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division, told journalists. He kicks off final Phase III trials now made no sense.

“Would it be the best use of this wealth of science afforded by mRNA vaccines to make a Covid-19 vaccine and try and bring one more mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to people who already today may not want an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine? Clearly not,” Triomphe said.

He added that by May or June 2022, 24 billion doses of Covid-19 jabs made by different manufacturers would have been delivered, which adds to the disincentives to produce a vaccine candidate when Covid-19 was unlikely to require vaccination based annually, instead of the flu.

Sanofi’s shares were flat at 82.1 euros by 1026 GMT, outperforming a 1.37% not approved in the STOXX Europe 600 Health Care.

“The decision of RNA looks to be interpreted as positive since they will save development costs and concentrate on the different products and ventures,” said Ion-Marc Valahu, a fund manager at Geneva from investment firm Clairinvest.