AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm, and the University of Oxford have entered into an agreement for the global development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The biopharmaceutical giant, while announcing the deal in a statement on Thursday, said it has agreed to mass-produce ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine developed by Oxford University scientists.
It said the deal would also aid the global distribution of the potential recombinant adenovirus drug aimed at preventing the COVID-19 infection as global leaders continue to battle the disease.
Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca, said the agreement would unite the Oxford’s “world-class expertise in vaccinology” and AstraZeneca’s manufacturing and distribution capabilities.
“Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for the development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine,” the statement read.
“The collaboration aims to bring to patients the potential vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford.”
The potential vaccine entered phase one clinical trials last week.
“Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation,” Soriot added.
While data from the phase one trial is projected to be ready in May 2020, AstraZeneca said that advancement to late-stage trial is expected to take place by the middle of this year.
“ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 uses a viral vector based on a weakened version of the common cold (adenovirus) containing the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” the statement continued.
“After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, which primes the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body.”
COVID-19 has killed nearly 230,000 persons while the number of infections globally has exceeded 3 million.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier stated that more than 70 potential vaccines for the deadly virus were in the works in researches spanning several multinational companies.
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