Big boost for GSK CEO Emma Walmsley as drug company gets closer to Covid admission

Big boost for GSK CEO Emma Walmsley as drug company gets closer to Covid admission

  • The recording is made with the South Korean group SK Bioscience
  • It will be rolled out worldwide next year if the study is successful
  • The trial will be a big boost for Walmsley, who is fending off an aggressive campaign against her leadership from activist investor Elliott Advisors.


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CEO of GlaxoSmithkline, Emma Walmsley

CEO of GlaxoSmithkline, Emma Walmsley

GlaxoSmithkline has stepped up its fight against Covid as a vaccine it is co-developing enters the final stages of clinical trials. The recording, which is being made with South Korean group SK Bioscience, will be rolled out worldwide next year if the study is successful.

The lawsuit will be a big boost for CEO Emma Walmsley, who is fend off an aggressive campaign against her leadership from activist investor Elliott Advisors. Walmsley, 52, is overseeing a split of the company’s biopharma and consumer businesses into two separate companies.

But in April, Elliott, co-chaired by Paul Singer, emerged as a major shareholder and has since called for a board review and urged Walmsley (pictured) to reapply as head of the biopharma company.

She insists she is a suitable boss and has previously said that while she is not a scientist, she is a business leader who could lead the company through the post-Covid era.

The mother of four’s background was in consumer affairs, including L’Oréal, before joining. The company’s failure to launch a successful Covid jab so far, despite being the world’s largest vaccine maker, has counted against it, placing it behind rivals like Astrazeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The shot developed with SK Bioscience will be tested alongside the injection of Astrazeneca after it was decided it would be unethical to test it with a placebo at this stage of the pandemic. The treatment uses an active ingredient – called an “adjuvant” – made by GSK, which increases the body’s response to the vaccine.

This means that a less concentrated form of the vaccine can be used but will have the same overall effect. In turn, this would make it possible to produce more vaccines overall. If the shot is successful, it will be produced “on a global scale” through the UN’s Covax program, which sends shots to low-income countries.

Thomas Breuer, the company’s chief global health officer, said: “While many countries have made good progress with vaccination, there remains a need for accessible and affordable Covid-19 vaccines to ensure equal access and protect people around the world. ‘ Shares of the company fell 0.9 percent, or 13.6 pence, to 1,462 pence last night.

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