Biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has reached agreement with four European Union nations to supply up to 400 million doses of CCP virus vaccine by the end of 2020.
AstraZeneca, a drugmaker headquartered in Cambridge, England, struck the deal with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance to supply vaccines currently being tested by the University of Oxford to Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands “at no profit.”
Oxford University is conducting phase 2 and phase 3 trials of the vaccine in about 10,000 adult volunteers.
“This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval. With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly,” Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said in a statement.
The company has struck similar deals with the United Kingdom, the United States, the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, for 700 million doses.
The vaccine, called AZD1222, formerly known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, introduces the SARS-CoV2 spike protein with a weakened version of a chimpanzee virus into the body. According to Professor Babak Javid of Tsinghua University School of Medicine in Beijing, although tested animals became infected with SARS-CoV2, the vaccine has so far prevented disease and the onset of pneumonia.
“The most important finding to me is the combination of considerable efficacy in terms of viral load and subsequent pneumonia, but no evidence of immune-enhanced disease,” professor Stephen Evans of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said of the vaccine.
The technology used in AZD1222 has never been deployed in a licensed human vaccine before.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca picked Emergent BioSolutions Inc to help produce the doses of the drugmaker’s potential COVID-19 vaccine pledged to the United States, in an agreement valued at about $87 million, according to another statement on June 11.
In the United States, AZD1222 is one of several pharmaceuticals supported by the federal government’s program Operation Warp Speed (OWS). OWS is aimed at speeding the development, manufacturing, and distribution of medical countermeasures to the CCP virus.
“We are proud to provide our CDMO services to advance AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. With this agreement, we bring to our facilities two of the five leading candidates being developed with U.S. government funding,” said Robert G. Kramer Sr., president of Emergent BioSolutions.
AstraZeneca has also signed a licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses to low- and middle-income countries. The company will provide 400 million of these doses before the year ends.
It’s also building in parallel a number of supply chains across the world to bring global access to the vaccine at no profit for two billion doses.
Oxford University is set to start the later states of AZD1222 trials in many other countries.
“AstraZeneca recognizes that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk,” the company said.