AstraZeneca gets $1 billion-plus U.S. government grant for fast-tracking coronavirus vaccine


AstraZeneca is collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organizations to make the University of Oxford’s early-stage coronavirus vaccine widely accessible around the world in what it described as “an equitable manner.”

The company acknowledges that the vaccine might not prove to be effective, but pledged to put its resources behind the effort.

AstraZeneca employs 1,500 in northern Delaware.

AstraZeneca received more than $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development, production, and delivery of the vaccine, starting in the fall. The development program includes a Phase III clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a pediatric trial.

The Company 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.

Reuters reported that if the vaccine is successful, the U.S. would get 300 million doses. The U.S. has agreements with other pharmaceutical companies for a vaccine.

President Donald Trump has been optimistic that a vaccine can be developed this year. Others have cautioned that the process could take far longer, with a high probability of failure for candidates.

AstraZeneca 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, a release stated.

In addition, the company is engaging with international organizations such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organisation (WHO), for the fair allocation and distribution of the vaccine around the world. AstraZeneca is also in discussions with governments to increase access. Furthermore, AstraZeneca is in discussions with the Serum Institute of India and other potential partners.

AstraZeneca recently joined forces with the government of the United Kingdom to support Oxford University’s vaccine and reported rapid progress in its efforts to expand access around the world. The Company will supply the UK starting in September.

Pascal Soriot, CEO said: “This pandemic is a global tragedy and it is a challenge for all of humanity. We need to defeat the virus together or it will continue to inflict huge personal suffering and leave long-lasting economic and social scars in every country around the world. 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.”

A Phase I/II clinical trial of the vaccine AZD1222 began last month in more than 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years across several trial centers in southern England. Data from the trial is expected shortly which, if positive, would lead to late-stage trials in a number of countries.

AstraZeneca recognizes that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program while making sure manufacturing is in place.

The company’s pandemic response also includes rapid mobilization of AstraZeneca’s global research efforts to discover novel coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies to prevent and treat the progression of COVID-19.

Additionally, the Company has quickly moved into the testing of new and existing medicines to treat the infection.

AZD1222, was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, working with the Oxford Vaccine Group. It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold (adenovirus) virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body.

Vaccines made from the virus have been given to more than 320 people to date and have been shown to be safe and well-tolerated. Temporary side effects such higher temperature, influenza-like symptoms, headache or a sore arm were reported

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