LONDON

Thinking big ahead of a possible second wave of coronavirus, global biopharmaceutical AstraZeneca has secured the capacity to manufacture 1 billion doses of a potential Oxford University vaccine for the virus.

AstraZeneca has “concluded the first agreements for at least 400 million doses and has secured total manufacturing capacity for one billion doses so far and will begin first deliveries in September 2020,” said a company statement.

The company aims to “conclude further agreements supported by several parallel supply chains, which will expand capacity further over the next months to ensure the delivery of a globally accessible vaccine.”

The statement came after AstraZeneca received $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine.

“The development programme includes a Phase III clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a paediatric trial,” added the statement.

The company said it is collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organizations “to make the University of Oxford’s potential vaccine widely accessible around the world in an equitable manner.”

Global cooperation

AstraZeneca said its engagement on the potential vaccine with international organizations continues as it is in talks with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) for “fair allocation and distribution of the potential vaccine around the world.”

The biopharmaceutical firm is also in discussions with governments around the world to increase access, as well as with the Serum Institute of India and other potential partners to increase production and distribution.

AstraZeneca said in a previous statement that it will be able to deliver up to 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to the UK by September, and 100 million by the end of the year.

The company said supply agreements for 400 million doses have been made so far.

“This pandemic is a global tragedy and it is a challenge for all of humanity,” said Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO.

“We are so proud to be collaborating with Oxford University to turn their ground-breaking work into a medicine that can be produced on a global scale. We would like to thank the US and UK governments for their substantial support to accelerate the development and production of the vaccine. We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available.”

Vaccine renamed

After finalizing its license agreement with Oxford, AstraZeneca renamed the potential vaccine AZD1222.

The vaccine, formerly known less memorably as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is still in human trials.

“A Phase I/II clinical trial of AZD1222 began last month to assess safety, immunogenicity and efficacy in over 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years across several trial centres in southern England,” the company said.

If the data from the trial, which is expected shortly, is positive, “it would lead to late-stage trials in a number of countries.”

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