AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s potential vaccine for COVID-19 has emerged as one of the leading prospects in combatting the novel coronavirus.
The two partners agreed a deal to work on AZD1222 (formerly known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) at the end of last month. Since that time, the potential of the vaccine has led the UK government to invest £65.5m ($80.1m) into securing 30 million doses for its population.
Yesterday, this was followed up by a figure dwarfing the UK’s commitment, as the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) offered up to $1.2bn (€1.1bn) to support to expansion of manufacturing and development activities for the vaccine.
In return, the US will receive 300 million doses of the vaccine candidate as part of the government’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’, which is aiming to make a vaccine available to its citizens by January 2021.
As part of its announcement, BARDA stated that it would receive the first doses of the vaccine in October 2020 and that it would support a Phase III clinical study in the US, with plans to recruit 30,000 volunteers to test the vaccine.
AZ bolsters manufacturing
AZ confirmed that it had secured manufacturing capacity that allowed it to hit the one billion doses figure that many of the larger companies are aiming for with their vaccines. Further, the company noted that it plans to conclude additional supply chain agreements to expand existing capacity ‘over the next months’.
The company expects to be able to begin deliveries of the vaccine in September 2020, with the recipient being the UK government – confirming the country’s stated plans to be prioritized ahead of other nations.
AZ announced that Phase I/II clinical trial data is ‘expected shortly’, with late-stage trials expected to begin should the trials prove positive.
In terms of the financial impact of moving quickly to expand manufacturing capacity to one billion doses, the company noted that it does expect any ‘significant impact’ on guidance, with the expenses of progressing the vaccine being “offset by funding by governments.”
Vaccine enters Phase II/III
The day after AZ was able to announce funding from BARDA, the University of Oxford released the news that the vaccine would be entering late-stage trials.
The next phase of development will see up to 10,260 adults and children recruited to the trial, which will be conducted in the UK.
In terms of when results will be available, the university stated that, if transmission of the virus remains high, enough data could be gathered to have results in a 'couple of months'. However, if transmission rates fall, it could potentially take up to six months.
Updated: The original story was updated to contain information about the vaccine entering late-stage clinical trial recruitment.