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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) CEO, Emma Walmsley (REUTERS)
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) CEO, Emma Walmsley (REUTERS)

GlaxoSmithKline CEO says vaccine makers staking reputations on Covid-19

  • The race to develop vaccines and treatments for Covid are set to permanently accelerate drug discovery, Walmsley said
  • Glaxo, which has expertise in substances called adjuvants that are added to vaccines to boost their effectiveness, has been working with Sanofi to develop a Covid shot

Vaccine makers have a lot at stake if any of the shots designed to protect against Covid-19 fail, according to Emma Walmsley, chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

The industry’s commitment will help ensure that the shots that do make it to the market are safe after a one-year development cycle, which is a fraction of the normal time needed, the head of the world’s largest vaccine maker said.

“The world will pay a very big price, not just for Covid, but beyond that if we break trust in the quality of vaccination," she said in an interview on The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations on Bloomberg Television.

The race to develop vaccines and treatments for Covid are set to permanently accelerate drug discovery, Walmsley said. Advances in processing genetics and genomics data, as well as developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, have a “real, real shot over the next decade to improve the productivity of R&D and science in my industry incredibly," the CEO said.

Walmsley also told the co-founder of Carlyle Group that the pandemic has mobilized the world to find faster solutions, with businesses such as GlaxoSmithKline working in concert with regulators to speed the roll-out of inoculation without compromising on safety.

Still, further vaccines are needed to make the entire world safe from Covid. Vaccines like Pfizer Inc.’s that need to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit) aren’t suitable for some parts of the developing world, Walmsley said.

Pandemic a Shot at Redemption in Pharma Industry, Glaxo CEO Says

Glaxo, which has expertise in substances called adjuvants that are added to vaccines to boost their effectiveness, has been working with Sanofi to develop a Covid shot. The experimental vaccine entered human trials in September.

Walmsley has previously said human and planetary health are inextricably linked, with some respiratory diseases being symptomatic of pollution or climate change. To address both concerns, GlaxoSmithKline announced earlier this month that it’s committed to having a net zero impact on climate and a net positive impact on nature by 2030. The company will also make public internal targets it’s setting on racial equality, she said.

There is a tension “between the human rights to access to health care, and profits in big corporates," Walmsley said. “Frankly, I think-- the industry hasn’t always historically helped itself, either because of a small number of egregious acts on pricing or not enough transparency about why we do what we do. I think that what we can do about that is to do a better job of fulfilling our purpose to protect health."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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