AstraZeneca has reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine, with deliveries starting by the end of 2020.
With today’s agreement, the IVA 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 IVA is committed to providing equitable access to all participating countries across Europe.
AstraZeneca continues to build a number of supply chains in parallel across the world, including for Europe. The Company is seeking to expand manufacturing capacity further and is open to collaborating with other companies in order to meet its commitment to support access to the vaccine at no profit during the pandemic.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, 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. I would like to thank the governments of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands for their commitment and swift response.”
The Company has recently completed similar agreements with the UK, US, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance for 700 million doses, and it agreed a licence with the Serum Institute of India for the supply of an additional one billion doses, principally for low- and middle-income countries. Total manufacturing capacity currently stands at two billion doses.
Oxford University last month announced the start of a Phase II/III UK trial of AZD1222 in about 10,000 adult volunteers. Other late-stage trials are due to begin in a number of countries. AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk.
The Company’s comprehensive pandemic response also includes rapid mobilisation of AstraZeneca’s global research efforts to discover novel coronavirus-neutralising antibodies to prevent and treat progression of the COVID-19 disease, with the aim of reaching clinical trials in the next three to five months. Additionally, the Company has quickly moved into testing of new and existing medicines to treat the infection, including the CALAVI trials underway for Calquence (acalabrutinib) and the DARE-19 trial for Farxiga (dapagliflozin) in COVID-19 patients.
Today’s announcement is not anticipated to have any significant impact on the Company’s financial guidance for 2020; costs to manufacture the vaccine are anticipated to be offset by funding by governments.
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, now known as AZD1222, was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, working with the Oxford Vaccine Group. It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold (adenovirus) virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body.
The recombinant adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1) was chosen to generate a strong immune response from a single dose and it is not replicating, so cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual. Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have been given to more than 320 people to date and have been shown to be well tolerated, although they can cause temporary side effects such as a temperature, influenza-like symptoms, headache or a sore arm.