One of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.15%), is collaborating with China's Clover Biopharmaceuticals in the clinical-stage vaccine developer's efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Adjuvant technology 

GlaxoSmithKline recorded $9.3 billion in vaccine sales in 2019, and its adjuvants are one big reason its vaccines are so popular. While the primary component of a vaccine is largely designed to provoke an immune response against a specific bad actor, adjuvants are chemicals that can be added to a variety of vaccines that make those immune responses more robust.

Two scientists working together.

Image source: Getty Images.

Clover Biopharmaceuticals doesn't have any vaccines available for commercial sale in China or anywhere else, but its latest candidate is already gaining a lot of attention. The company's potential new COVID-19 vaccine mimics a three-pronged protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and will soon be delivered with one of Glaxo's adjuvants.

All hands on deck

The spread of the COVID-19 globally thus far suggests that any company that develops an effective vaccine for it will need to seriously consider manufacturing constraints. Clover's partnership with GlaxoSmithKline is a step in the right direction, and one that we'll probably see repeated elsewhere in the near term. Earlier this month, GlaxoSmithKline and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) announced they would make the company's adjuvant technology available to just about any drugmaker with a viable vaccine candidate in development. 

So far, there are more than 77,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China, and another 1,769 in 28 other countries. While the World Health Organization believes the disease can be kept from spreading to every corner of the globe, the window of opportunity to contain it is closing fast.