AstraZeneca Receives $1 Billion for Development of University of Oxford Vaccine for COVID-19

May 21, 2020

AstraZeneca has received funds exceeding $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the development, production, and delivery of the University of Oxford’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate.

AstraZeneca has received funds exceeding $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the development, production, and delivery of the University of Oxford’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate.1

According to a press release, AstraZeneca has concluded the first agreements for at least 400 million doses and has secured total manufacturing capacity for 1 billion doses, with anticipated deliveries beginning in September 2020. The development program for the vaccine includes a phase 3 clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a pediatric trial.1

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford previously announced an agreement for the global development and distribution of the potential vaccine. “This will allow for rapid vaccination around the world if the COVID-19 vaccine candidate proves to be effective,” University of Oxford said in its announcement.2

AstraZeneca is also engaging with international organizations such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization, for the fair allocation and distribution of the vaccine globally. The company is also in discussions with the Serum Institute of India and other potential partners to increase production and distribution, according to the release.1

The investigational vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, now known as AZD1222, was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute. It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 spike protein.1

Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have been given to more than 300 individuals to date. Although they can cause temporary adverse effects, such as temperature, influenza-like symptoms, headache, or sore arm, they have been shown to be safe and well tolerated overall.1

The recombinant adenovirus vaccine candidate recently underwent the start of a clinical trial involving 1100 participants to assess its safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy across multiple trial centers in England. According to the investigators, how quickly results will be available is based on the numbers of study participants who develop COVID-19, which will depend on the levels of virus transmission in the community.3

“If transmission remains high, we may get enough data in a couple of months to see if the vaccine works, but if transmission levels drop, this could take up to 6 months,” the university said.3

“This pandemic is a global tragedy and it is a challenge for all of humanity,” Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer, AstraZeneca, said in a statement.1 “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. 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. We would like to thank the US and UK governments for their substantial support to accelerate the development and production of the vaccine. We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available.”

References:

1. AstraZeneca advances response to global COVID-19 challenge as it receives first commitments for Oxford’s potential new vaccine. News Release. AstraZeneca; May 21, 2020. Accessed May 21, 2020. https://www.astrazeneca.com/content/astraz/media-centre/press-releases/2020/astrazeneca-advances-response-to-global-covid-19-challenge-as-it-receives-first-commitments-for-oxfords-potential-new-vaccine.html

2. Landmark partnership announced for development of COVID-19 vaccine. News Release. University of Oxford; April 30, 2020. Accessed May 21, 2020. https://www.research.ox.ac.uk/Article/2020-04-30-landmark-partnership-announced-for-development-of-covid-19-vaccine

3. Oxford COVID-19 vaccine begins human trial stage. News Release. University of Oxford; April 23, 2020. http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-04-23-oxford-covid-19-vaccine-begins-human-trial-stage.