U.S. orders 300M doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine

Grant Boone
May 22, 2020

AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, England, says it will be able to manufacture around one billion doses of the vaccine, and hopes to begin deliveries in September.

He said: "We have a lot of things happening on the vaccine front or the therapeutic front".

Sanofi's chief angered the French government earlier this month when he said vaccine doses produced in the U.S. could go to American patients first, given the country had supported the research financially.

AstraZeneca said it had now finalised its licence agreement with Oxford University for the recombinant adenovirus vaccine.

Through its partnership with AstraZeneca, the Department of Health and Human Services can provide up to $1.2 billion to speed up development and manufacturing of the coronavirus vaccine called AZD1222, with the first doses delivered as early as October, the health agency said.

But the company said it was committed to advancing the clinical programme.

Pascal Soriot, Astra's chief executive, said: "This pandemic is a global tragedy and it is a challenge for all of humanity".

US Health Secretary Alex Azar said: "This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed's work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021".

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The vaccine, previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and now as AZD1222, was developed by the University of Oxford and licensed to AstraZeneca.

It comes amid concerns that the United States - which has the world's highest official death rate from COVID-19 - could have a vaccine before other countries thanks to its large-scale funding of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Scientists from Oxford University's Jenner Institute have defended its coronavirus vaccine in the wake of criticism in a Forbes article last week about its effectiveness in monkeys.

"We are so proud to be collaborating with Oxford University to turn their ground-breaking work into a medicine that can be produced on a global scale".

All of this though will be dependent on getting data results from the vaccine candidate's Phase I/II clinical trial, which the drugmaker expects shortly and if positive, would lead to late-stage trials in a number of countries.

"It's not surprising a significant percentage of Americans are not going to take the vaccine because of the awful messaging we've had, the absence of a communication plan around the vaccine and this very aggressive anti-vaccine movement", said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

In a May 15 study published on the preprint server bioRxiv, the researchers found that a single dose of ShaCoVacc resulted in an "immediate and potential immune response" against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, "in contrast to an inactivated vaccine which required at least two or three doses of injections".

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