AstraZeneca, the drugmaker to mass-produced Oxford University’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, says it could begin supply in September if clinical trials are successful.
The pharmaceutical giant, in a statement on Thursday, said it can produce one billion doses of the vaccine — formerly ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 but now AZD1222 — having signed agreements and received aid to supply at least 400 million doses.
It said it received over $1 billion from the Health Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the vaccine’s production and delivery.
While initial trials are ongoing, AstraZeneca said it recognised that the vaccine might not work.
It, however, added that if results from the early-stage tests turn positive, they would lead to late-stage trials across several countries.
“AstraZeneca has concluded the first agreements for at least 400 million doses and has secured total manufacturing capacity for one billion doses so far. It will begin first deliveries in September 2020,” it wrote.
“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.
“AstraZeneca today received the support of more than $1bn from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the development, production, and delivery of the vaccine, starting in the fall.
“Data from the trial is expected shortly which, if positive, would lead to late-stage trials in a number of countries. AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk.”
It is known that only a handful of the vaccines in development have successfully attained the level of human trials — indicating their safety and efficacy — at which stage many have mostly failed.
Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca chief executive officer, described the COVID-19 crisis as a “global tragedy” and “challenge for all of humanity.”
“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,” he said.
“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.”
AstraZeneca had earlier signed an agreementwith Oxford University researchers to unite the latter’s “world-class expertise in vaccinology” with AstraZeneca’s production and distribution capabilities.
While drugmakers are currently working on over 70 vaccines, experts have predicted that a safe and effective means of preventing the disease could take 12 to 18 months to develop. (The Cable)