Daily Mail

As­tra seals deal to mass pro­duce its Covid jab

- by Lucy White

AS­TRAZENECA has struck a deal to mass-pro­duce a po­ten­tial Covid-19 vac­cine, as it be­gins large-scale hu­man tri­als in the US.

The FTSE 100 drugs firm will pay gene ther­apy group Ox­ford Biomed­ica £15m up front to scale up man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity of the vac­cine, as it hopes to win fast-track ap­proval in the US, and plans to en­rol up to 30,000 test can­di­dates.

As­trazeneca’s shot, de­vel­oped in collaborat­ion with re­searchers at Ox­ford Univer­sity, is one of the most promis­ing vac­ci­na­tions un­der way. Ex­perts hope it will halt the spread of coro­n­avirus, which has al­ready killed more than 850,000 peo­ple.

A fi­nal-stage trial is in progress in the UK, and re­ports have emerged that the US may be aim­ing for ap­proval be­fore the Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

As­trazeneca’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Pas­cal So­riot said: ‘We are mov­ing quickly but without cut­ting corners, and reg­u­la­tors have clear and strin­gent ef­fi­cacy and safety stan­dards for the ap­proval of any new medicine, and that in­cludes this po­ten­tial Covid-19 vac­cine.’

Ox­ford Biomed­ica said it ex­pected to re­ceive more than £35m more if the vac­cine was suc­cess­ful, as it man­u­fac­tures large batches of the vac­cine un­til the end of 2021.

Al­ready the UK has bought 100m doses of the vac­cines, while the Euro­pean Union has bought 300m. As­trazeneca shares fell 1.7pc, or 143p, to 8197p.

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