US Gives AstraZeneca $ 1 billion for Oxford Vaccine
The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has added another illustrious European pharmaceutical industry player to the list of those whose resources it wants to tap to make a Covid-19 vaccine for the US.
The more than $1 billion that BARDA is offering the UK drugmaker puts its $483 million deal with US-start-up biotech Moderna and its $226 million pact with France’s Sanofi in the shade.
Under the arrangement, AstraZeneca has agreed to initially supply at least 400 million doses of the vaccine for the US and has secured total manufacturing capacity to produce 1 billion doses, with first deliveries slated in September, when the vaccine is projected to be ready.
Pascal Soriot, the drugmaker’s CEO, said it would do everything in its power to make the vaccine “quickly and widely available.”
The compnay told Reuters it is in talks with global groups and governments to deliver doses to developing countries at no profit while at the same time working on parallel supply chains to supply the world.
AstraZeneca is preparing the vaccine developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group at the UK’s University of Oxford for full scale universal deployment. The project is being financed in major part by the British government
A the beginning of the week, AstraZeneca said it would make as many as 30 million initial doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine available by September, assuming the success of trials expected to complete by mid-year, and deliver 100 million doses this year, with the UK having priority.
No details have been released about the additional capacity secured in the US or where the vaccines would be made but to produce 400 million doses for the US alone, it would have to be substantial.
CEO Pascal Soriot said AstraZeneca would do everything in its power to make the vaccine “quickly and widely available.”
Moderna responds to data doubts
In other news, Noubar Afeyan, chairman of Moderna, has defended the biotech’s new vaccine data, responding to reports that some experts were skeptical of the results from the company’s phase 1 human trial as they did not provide critical information to assess effectiveness.
Afeyan said all 45 patients enrolled in the trial produced binding antibodies seen at levels similar to those of people who have recovered from the virus.
He said the vaccine candidate produced neutralizing antibodies, considered important to protect against the virus, for eight of the patients whose data was available.
Data on neutralizing antibodies for the remaining patients is to be published later.