By Aakash B
(Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc said on Thursday it had received the first agreement to supply at least 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed with the University of Oxford.
The British drug maker says it has total capacity sourced for one billion doses up to 2020 and until 2021, and continues to increase capacity further.
There are currently no treatments or vaccines approved for COVID-19, a disease caused by the new corona virus, with the government, drug makers and researchers working on about 100 vaccine programs. Experts estimate that a safe and effective vaccine can take 12 to 18 months to develop.
AstraZeneca also said it had received more than $ 1 billion from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency for the development, production and delivery of potential vaccines.
Development will include a planned final phase clinical trial with 30,000 participants and a children’s trial. It said the results of the initial clinical footprint in southern England were expected immediately and, if positive, would lead to the final trials in a number of countries.
The company also said it was involved with international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), for the fair allocation and distribution of vaccines throughout the world.
AstraZeneca said it acknowledged that the vaccine might not work, but was committed to accelerating the clinical program quickly and increasing production.
It said it plans to start supplying vaccines in the UK in September.
(Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Patrick Graham)
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