AstraZeneca gets deals for potential Covid-19 vaccine, targets UK supply in September 


A scientist checks quality control of vaccine vials for correct volume at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford. File photo: Sean Elias/Handout via REUTERS)
A scientist checks quality control of vaccine vials for correct volume at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford. File photo: Sean Elias/Handout via REUTERS)

BRITISH drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc has received the first agreements to supply at least 400 million doses of the potential Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford.

The company said on Thursday (21) it had a total capacity sourced for one billion doses through 2020 and into 2021, and continued to increase capacity further.

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19, with governments, drugmakers and researchers working on around 100 vaccine programmes. Experts predict a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to develop.

AstraZeneca added that it had received more than $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for development, production and delivery of the potential vaccine.

According to reports, the US government has ordered 300 million doses, as part of plans to make “a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021”.

AstraZeneca said development of the vaccine would include a planned late-stage clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a paediatric trial.

It added that results from an early stage clinical trail in southern England were expected shortly and, if positive, would lead to late stage trials in a number of countries.

The company also said it was engaging with international organisations, including the World Health Organization, for the fair allocation and distribution of the vaccine around the world.

AstraZeneca said it recognised that the vaccine may not work, but was committed to progressing the clinical programme at speed and scaling up manufacturing.

It said it planned to start supplying the vaccine in the UK in September.