AstraZeneca agrees to manufacture COVIDE-19 vaccine for Europe

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LONDON – Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Saturday reached an agreement with the European Alliance of Inclusive Vaccines to provide up to 400 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine as efforts to build manufacturing capacity continue at a steady pace.

The alliance, forged by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands to accelerate vaccine production, is expected to take delivery of the vaccine tested by Oxford University by the end of 2020. The agreement with AstraZeneca also aims to make the vaccine available to other European countries that wish to participate.

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The cost should be offset by government funding.

“This agreement will allow hundreds of millions of Europeans to have access to the Oxford University vaccine after approval,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca. While our European supply chain is expected to start producing soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and quickly.

The agreement is the latest in a series to manufacture the vaccine, although it is not certain that it will work. But so desperate is the need that the intensification of manufacturing continue despite the risk.

A sign is seen at an astrazeneca site in Macclesfield, England. (REUTERS/Darren Staples)

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The Anglo-Swedish company has recently entered into similar agreements with Great Britain, the United States, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for 700 million doses. A license has also been agreed with the Serum Institute of India for another billion doses.

The vaccine was developed by the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Tests for the experimental vaccine COVID-19 began in Britain with more than 1,000 people aged 18 to 55. Another round with 10,000 volunteers began last month.

Other companies, including Moderna and Sanofi, are in the running to develop and produce a vaccine against the new coronavirus, a step experts say will be crucial to allow countries to ease their blockages and restrictions on public life.

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