Global biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca said it doubled its capacity for the production of a potential Oxford University vaccine against the coronavirus to 2 billion doses.

A press release from the company said late Thursday that it signed an agreement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Serum Institute of India (SII) to produce 1 billion doses for low and middle income countries.

It said it is planning to provide 400 million doses before the end of 2020.

The company struck a deal worth $750 million with CEPI and Gavi — health organizations backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his family — to support the manufacturing, procurement and distribution of 300 million doses with the aim of starting delivery by the end of 2020.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer at AstraZeneca, said: “We are working tirelessly to honour our commitment to ensure broad and equitable access to Oxford’s vaccine across the globe and at no profit. Today marks an important step in helping us supply hundreds of millions of people around the world, including to those in countries with the lowest means. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s commitment to this cause and for their work in bringing this together in such a short time.”

AstraZeneca last month “concluded the first agreements for at least 400 million doses and has secured total manufacturing capacity for one billion doses … and will begin first deliveries in September 2020.”

AstraZeneca “recently agreed to supply 400 million doses to the US and UK” after reaching a licence agreement with Oxford University for its potential vaccine, renaming the vaccine as AZD1222.

Oxford University recently announced the start of a Phase II/III trial of AZD1222 in about 10,000 adult volunteers. It said other late-stage trials are due to begin in a number of countries.

“AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk.”

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