FTSE 100 drug giant AstraZeneca (AZN.L) is lined up to make as many as 30 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine if ongoing trials prove the drug to be effective.
UK business secretary Alok Sharma said on Sunday that AstraZeneca would make up to 30 million doses of an Oxford University-developed drug by September. The drugs giant has agreed to make 100 million doses in total.
The vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford. Clinical trials began in April with early results coming as soon as this month.
Details of the production partnership between AstraZeneca and Oxford University had previously been announced but Sunday marked the first time production goals had been shared.
“Our scientists are at the forefront of vaccine development,” business secretary Sharma said in a statement. “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.”
The business secretary announced £65.5m in new funding for the Oxford trials, alongside £18.5m for researchers at Imperial College London.
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot thanked the government for its support in a statement and said he was “proud” to be working with Oxford on vaccine development.
Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said in a statement: “We now have a partner in AstraZeneca who are ideally positioned to help us evaluate the vaccine, manufacture it and distribute it to UK citizens as well as to the rest of the world.
“They share our commitment to true global access to end this pandemic.”
Soriot said: “Our company is working hard to establish parallel supply agreements with other nations and multilateral organisations to ensure fair and equitable access around the world.”
Shares in AstraZeneca rose 1.8% on Monday morning in London.
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