AstraZeneca could supply potential coronavirus vaccine from September

A volunteer is injected with either an experimental Covid-19 vaccine or a comparison shot on 25 April in the Oxford University trials

A volunteer is injected with either an experimental Covid-19 vaccine or a comparison shot on 25 April in the Oxford University trials.
Photograph: AP

AstraZeneca has said it has the capacity to manufacture 1bn doses of the University of Oxford’s potential Covid-19 vaccine and will begin supply in September if clinical trials are successful.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said it had signed the first agreements to supply at least 400m doses of the potential vaccine, yet to be proven effective, which it is developing with the university. AstraZeneca said it recognised the vaccine might not work but if results from the early stage tests were positive, they would lead to late-stage trials in several countries.

Only a handful of the vaccines in development have advanced to human trials, an indicator of safety and efficacy, and the stage at which most fail. There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19, which are being tested by pharmaceutical firms across the world. Governments, drugmakers and researchers are working on about 100 programmes, with experts predicting that a safe and effective means of preventing the disease could take 12 to 18 months to develop.

On Monday, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said that if Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate proved successful, then up to 30m doses for the UK could be available by September. AstraZeneca said it has now finalised its licence agreement with Oxford University for the “recombinant adenovirus vaccine”, which will be known as AZD1222.

Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, 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 groundbreaking 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.”

The company said on Thursday that it had received more than $1bn (£820) from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine, starting in autumn.

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