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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

AstraZeneca doubles the capacity of the Covid-19 vaccine potential at doses of 2 billion | Business

AstraZeneca has doubled the production capacity of its potential Covid-19 vaccine to 2 billion doses after concluding a series of agreements including two health organizations supported by Bill and Melinda Gates.

Last month, the pharmaceutical giant said it could produce 1 billion doses of the vaccine that it is developing in collaboration with researchers from the University of Oxford.

On Thursday, AstraZeneca announced it had signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India to produce 1 billion doses intended for low and middle income countries. It plans to deliver 400m doses by the end of 2020.

AstraZeneca has also signed a $ 750 million (£ 595 million) deal with two healthcare organizations supported by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. These organizations, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Gavi vaccine alliance, will help find production facilities to produce and distribute 300m doses of the vaccine, with delivery beginning later this year.

The new offerings aim to ensure the early delivery of the vaccine to low-income countries. It is not yet clear whether the vaccines will work against Covid-19, but dozens of companies are in the running to develop one.

AstraZeneca, which overtook Royal Dutch Shell last month to become the UK’s largest market value company, said the latest deals are part of efforts to build supply chains for potential nonprofit vaccine. . The company has already decided to supply 300 million doses of the potential vaccine in the United States and another 100 million in the United Kingdom, with the first deliveries scheduled for September.


“Our goal is not to leave anyone behind and we will continue to work very hard … to make sure that this vaccine is quickly and widely available worldwide,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca.

Richard Hatchett, CEPI CEO, said that the World Health Organization will develop “recommended allocation schemes” so that vaccines produced through the new partnerships are initially distributed to the people who need them most.

This could include healthcare professionals and vulnerable people who are most at risk of Covid-19, including the elderly and people with basic health conditions like hypertension or diabetes, explained Hatchett. He assured that the allocation process would be “open, inclusive and transparent as are the WHO processes”.

Soriot said AstraZeneca is in talks with “additional parts that could be affected” to the 300 million reserve doses that have not yet been requested.

The vaccine, known as AZD1222, is currently being tested involving around 10,000 adult volunteers. Soriot said he expected to know if the vaccine works when these studies end in August.

Subsequently, the vaccines could begin to be distributed as early as September.

Hatchett said the search for a Covid-19 vaccine was “the most pressing challenge of our time.”

However, he admitted that the organization was taking a “substantial risk” by investing in production while tests were still ongoing and admitted that there was a possibility that the vaccine would not work.

However, if this were the case, CEPI could offer assistance to other vaccine manufacturers using similar production methods. “This is a way to manage risk and tolerate the huge financial risk of starting to produce early,” said Hatchett.

“Obviously if the vaccine is successful, placing that advance bet on production gives a huge profit, because you end up with tens or even hundreds of millions of doses that become available as soon as possible that you are sure that the vaccine is safe and effective,” he added. Hatchett.

CEPI had previously worked with the University of Oxford to try to develop a vaccine for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which is another form of coronavirus.

“As for the possibility of [Covid-19] working vaccine, I’d say we all have pretty good hopes from what we’ve seen so far, but we can’t be sure of course, “said Soriot.

The pharmaceutical chief said the company will consider further partnerships that could further increase capacity, but the authorities should cover their bets.

“It would probably make sense for the company to bet on two or three different technologies, not just our vaccine. So you would expect more vaccines to be made available,” he said.

“We will certainly examine the additional capacity, but at 2 billion [doses] … you would have already had a big impact, “added Soriot.

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