Coronavirus: AstraZeneca says it can deliver millions of doses of potential Oxford vaccine by September

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca says it has secured orders for at least 400 million doses of an unproven Covid-19 vaccine that it will be able to start delivering this year.

It announced on Thursday that it had “concluded the first agreements” to make the University of Oxford’s potential coronavirus vaccine.

The British-Swedish drug-manufacturing giant said earlier this week it had secured manufacturing capacity for 1 billion doses so far, and plans to begin first deliveries in September 2020.

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The company said it has received more than $1bn from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help produce the unproven vaccine.

AstraZeneca said it aims to conclude further deals in order to expand capacity over the next few months to “ensure the delivery of a globally accessible vaccine”.

The recombinant adenovirus vaccine will be known as “AZD1222”, AstraZeneca added.

Pascal Soriot, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement: “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 added: “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.”

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Earlier this month, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said that if Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate proves successful, up to 30 million doses could be available by September for the most vulnerable in the UK.

“If it does [work], it is likely to be one of the first available in the world, then we have agreement to make sure that 100 million doses are available for the UK,” he told MPs in the House of Commons.

There is no guarantee that the AZD1222 vaccine will be successful, and the government has previously warned that a vaccine “may never be found”.

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