The US has given over $1 billion to AstraZeneca to support Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine. The money will advance the development, production and delivery of the vaccine, including a Phase III clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a paediatric trial. In return, the US expects that 300 million doses of the Oxford Vaccine, now known as AZD1222, will be made available to the country by October.
This comes amid news that AstraZeneca has secured contracts to provide at least 400 million doses around the world, 30 million of which will be going to the UK. The company has managed to source enough manufacturing capability for one billion doses, and will begin first deliveries in September.
There is still no data from the first clinical trial, which began last month to assess the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of the jab. Even though there is no certainty that the vaccine will work, AstraZeneca continue to scale up operations at speed.
The additional $1 billion funding is part of the US Government’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’, which has backed projects underway at a range of different pharmaceutical companies. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which made the deal with AstraZeneca, is currently supporting four vaccine candidates, seven potential treatments and seventeen diagnostic tests.
This has led some to worry that, in the race to develop and distribute treatments for Covid-19, countries without such deep pockets may be put at a disadvantage. But both those working on the Oxford vaccine and at AstraZeneca have confirmed their international outlook, hoping to make jabs available in developing countries at the lowest possible cost.
Patrick Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca, said “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.”