February 6, 2020 / 11:01 AM / 13 days ago

French drugmaker Sanofi working on coronavirus initiative

The logo of Sanofi is seen during the annual results news conference in Paris, France, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi (SASY.PA) will announce a new coronavirus initiative within the next two weeks, its chief executive said on Thursday, adding that it wants to present something concrete and not add to “fantasies”.

At least a dozen drugmakers are working on vaccines or antivirals to help those infected with the fast-spreading virus that has killed more than 500 people in China, but several have warned that development of treatments will take time.

“We have seen a flurry of activities from other companies,” CEO Paul Hudson told a news conference after Sanofi published 2019 results on Thursday.

“We are one of the few companies that has the expertise to know when it is just a fantasy, or when it could be real. In the next week or two, you will see something more confirmatory about the approach we will take.”

Hudson declined to give further details.

Sanofi had already said it was sharing its expertise and data acquired from other outbreaks with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is working with biotech businesses to try to develop a vaccine candidate for the coronavirus.

Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) is also collaborating with CEPI.

“The objective here is not a newspaper headline, it is real work that will make a difference,” Hudson said.

Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by David Goodman

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