The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has just been granted more than $1 billion in funding from the U.S. government for the manufacturing of its coronavirus vaccine.
The company has also announced that it has received orders for 400 million doses of the vaccine delivery from September. The vaccine as of yet has not been proven to show positive results in human trials. These announcements came today from the company itself in the form of a press release.
After the hype about Moderna’s mRNA coronavirus vaccine, I wrote about why Oxford’s vaccine, which instead uses an adenoviral vector, may be safer. Now AstraZeneca got $1 billion from the US to develop the vaccine with Oxford. Here’s the science of it all: https://t.co/AK8iFQcpr1
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) May 21, 2020
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca says it has booked orders for at least 400 million doses of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus being developed by the University of Oxford. https://t.co/x0LPNe0oay pic.twitter.com/SIRQ6Lon4K
— ABC News (@ABC) May 21, 2020
The money in the amount of $1.2 billion is awarded to the company by the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The money is for the development, production and delivery of the potential COVID-19 vaccine, to America.
The vaccine is being developed by the company in partnership with the University of Oxford and will include a pediatric trial and a Phase 3 clinical trial with 30,000 participants. The Oxford University vaccine is a recombinant adenovirus vaccine.
Right now, the oxford vaccine is at the forefront on the development efforts for a viable vaccine against coronavirus. The scientists on the project say that the vaccine could be ready as early as September.
Though no human trial results have been unveiled yet, the vaccine has shown great potential in animal subjects like monkeys.
— Health Units (@healthunits) May 15, 2020
The Trump Administration has also announced its partnership with the pharmaceutical giant, to ensure 300 million vaccine doses of the vaccine from this October. This is all part of a larger effort to accelerate response to the pandemic by focusing on multiple areas at once.
The Trump Administration has named the initiative ‘Operation Warp Speed’ with the main aim of expanding vaccine production in the U.S.
Operation Warp Speed is "a massive scientific, industrial, and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project." pic.twitter.com/dkfU3vPnnA
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2020
The President said “Operation Warp Speed” means it’s “big” and “fast”.
Doc who named it tells me he loves “Star Trek”. pic.twitter.com/kGaVSh1ykL
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) May 15, 2020
The oxford vaccine now called AZD1222 is the fourth vaccine candidate to receive BARDA support for development. Under operation warp speed, BARDA is currently supporting 32 products which include 4 vaccines, 7 treatment options, 17 diagnostic tests, a test to screen donated blood, and two tests to detect sepsis in COVID-19 patients early.
United States based Moderna is also working on a potential vaccine, but public health experts are skeptic when it comes to its effectiveness, ever since the company shared the impressive positive but short results. The race for development of vaccine is accelerating as more than 100 companies and universities are working on different vaccines for COVID-19.
The United Kingdom has also committed £65.5 million ($80 million) to the Oxford vaccine. On Monday, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, also announced that if proven effective the oxford vaccine will be available to public in UK by early September. The company is aiming to provide 30 million doses to UK by the fall out of the total 100 doses that are promised.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) May 17, 2020
2/3 The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced in the world. Bringing together the best British science and the best of British business will give us the best possible shot at a vaccine.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) April 30, 2020
AstraZeneca got involved in the vaccine development last month. Previously, the company did not focus on the vaccines but was largely a pharmaceutical developer and distributor.
There are growing concerns of “vaccine nationalism” in the top public health agencies. It means that the rich nations that will pump millions into vaccines, will reap the benefits first. Leaving poor nations behind and under the weight of this pandemic.
"Vaccine nationalism" is a huge threat, says RAND's @charles_ries.
"If you have a vaccine … everybody should want that vaccine to be made available to as many people, all over the world, as fast as possible. That's the exit strategy for all of us." https://t.co/C621bAOcZb
— RAND Corporation (@RANDCorporation) May 20, 2020
A former secretary of the health and finance department has warned the international race to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus could pit nations against each other | @Dana_Adele https://t.co/x6JE7VfLdf
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) May 18, 2020
However, AstraZeneca has implied that it will work with the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance to ensure that everyone can access their vaccine.
The company is also working to produce 1 billion doses by September and claims that it will not make a profit from the vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution process.
AstraZeneca said it can deliver a billion doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine later this year if tests are successful. The vaccine, being developed with Oxford University, is still awaiting results from early stage trials https://t.co/aA0H9cGSK8 pic.twitter.com/jXVvJ7QiDS
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 21, 2020
The Anglo-Swedish drug maker is also planning late stage vaccine trials in several countries and not just in UK and America.
Though the stakes are high to develop a vaccine soon, the countries have started to ease lockdowns and experts are warning people that some measure of social distancing needs to be kept, till an effective vaccine is found.
The Chief Executive of the AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, has said that the company will do everything in its power to make a vaccine available widely and quickly.