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AstraZeneca pledges to manufacture 30m units of Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine

Published on 19/05/20 at 12:59pm

AstraZeneca has provided an update on the partnership it forged with the University of Oxford in late April to push forward development of a safe and effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus, announcing its commitment to the manufacture of 30 million vaccine doses by September this year.

During the UK Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced the government would be pledging £65.5 million in funding for the development of the candidate. He also announced a further £18.5 million funding to Imperial College London for later-stage clinical trials should the vaccine show its efficacy in the earlier stages.

“This new money will help mass-produce the Oxford vaccine so that if current trials are successful we have dosages to start vaccinating the UK population straight away,” he said.

He also revealed that, if successful, the vaccine – the fruit of two British institutions – would be offered to the UK population first.

"This deal with AstraZeneca means that if the Oxford University vaccine works, people in the UK will get the first access to it, helping to protect thousands of lives," Sharma added.

However, he also noted that the vaccine would also be offered to regions which may otherwise have trouble accessing an effective prophylactic treatment for the virus: "The agreement will deliver 100 million doses in total, ensuring that in addition to supporting our own people, we are able to make the vaccines available to developing countries at the lowest possible cost."

The vaccine candidate is currently undergoing testing in humans after Phase 1 trials kicked off in late April. Around 1,000 healthy participants between the age of 18 and 55 will take part, with around 550 receiving the Oxford vaccine and another 550 receiving a control vaccine for meningitis and sepsis.  

Matt Fellows

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