AstraZeneca Targets 30 Million Vaccine Doses by September
Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has announced it will make as many as 30 million initial doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine available by September this year, assuming the success of late-stage trials expected to conclude by mid-year.
The vaccine candidate has already entered Phase 1 clinical trials to study safety and efficacy in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across five trial centers in southern England. Data from the trial could be available as early as next month.
Altogether, AstraZeneca has committed to delivering 100 million doses this year, and guaranteed that the UK will have first access to supply.
At the end of April, the drugmaker signed an agreement with the University of Oxford for the global development and distribution of the university’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection. Under the terms, it is responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution.
The vaccine, which is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, will receive £65.5 million in funding from the UK government upfront, and Imperial College London could receive another £18.5 million as trials accelerate.
The project is a nonprofit partnership between the university, Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which also plans to set up a temporary rapid deployment facility so that production could start as soon as a Covid-19 vaccine is discovered.
Altogether, the UK government is said to have made available £131 million in funding to accelerate the vaccine’s deployment. This could facilitate opening a full-scale production facility in summer of 2021, a year earlier than previously planned.
The UK Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Center will be capable of producing 70 million vaccine doses within four to six months of opening its permanent facility, reports said.
Despite efforts by the EU and international organizations to develop a vaccine that would be available globally, leaders of some countries are taking a “me first” approach.
“We are leading the global effort,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an opinion piece published in the Daily Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s contention that the US would have first rights to any vaccine to emerge from the French drugmaker’s collaboration with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) because the US government was funding the effort has met with a storm of criticism, not least in France. Hudson repeated his earlier statement in an interview with Bloomberg last week.