Coronavirus: AstraZeneca signs deal to make vaccine for Europe

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AstraZeneca (AZN) said it reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply up to 400 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University, with deliveries starting by the end of 2020.

The company has already started to manufacture the vaccine to ensure, if it does pass human trials, it can be made available in the autumn.

The deal with the alliance, spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, “aims to accelerate the supply of the vaccine and to make it available to other European countries that wish to participate in the initiative,” the UK-based pharmaceutical company said.

It said it “recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk.”

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CEO Pascal Soriot said: “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.”

The firm has made similar agreements with the UK, US, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for 700 million doses. It has also agreed a licence with the Serum Institute of India for the supply of one billion doses, principally for low- and middle-income countries.

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, working with the Oxford Vaccine Group. The university last month announced the start of a trial of the vaccine in about 10,000 adult volunteers. Other late-stage trials are due to begin in a number of countries.

The university began development on a vaccine in January, using a virus taken from chimpanzees.

Companies such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Pfizer (PFE) are working with researchers across the world to ensure a vaccine can be manufactured at speed once one becomes available. But questions have been raised about who will get access to the doses, and when.

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