Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) has expanded its partnership with Translate Bio (NASDAQ: TBIO ) to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.

The two companies are pursuing novel mRNA vaccines aimed at broadly addressing current and future infectious diseases, evaluating multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates. They hope to conduct human clinical trials in Q4:2020 but are also advancing an mRNA vaccine development candidate against influenza through preclinical studies with clinical trial initiation anticipated in mid-year 2021.

The original agreement dates back to 2018, when Translate Bio and Sanofi Pasteur entered into a collaboration and exclusive license agreement to develop mRNA vaccines for up to five infectious disease pathogens. Translate Bio received $45 million upfront for the collaboration, according to our Deal Search Online database.

For the expanded agreement, Sanofi Pasteur will pay Translate Bio $300 million in cash upfront and it will buy $125 million of Translate Bio’s common shares. It has also agreed to potential future milestones and other payments up to $1.9 billion, including $450 million of milestones under the 2018 agreement.  

Sanofi Pasteur’s new collaboration follows M&A activity from other biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms focused on COVID-19 vaccine research. On May 26, Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) acquired Praha Vaccines for $167 million to help boost its vaccine production. And just a day later, Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) announced it purchased Themis Bioscience, an Austrian based biotech firm equipped with a broad pipeline of vaccine candidates and immune-modulatory therapies.