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AstraZeneca joins forces with University of Oxford to develop and manufacture potential coronavirus vaccine

Published on 30/04/20 at 12:05pm
Image credit: Steve Cadman,

A “landmark” partnership has been struck between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford in the ongoing battle against COVID-19, with the former agreeing to aid in the development and large-scale manufacture of the latter’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine for the prevention of novel coronavirus infection.

Candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, entered human trials last week, the first prophylactic in the UK to do so.

According to the pair, the partnership will kick off immediately to allow for rapid vaccination in the event the candidate proves effective, with both parties agreeing to operate on a not-for-profit basis for the remainder of the pandemic situation. It was confirmed that neither the University nor its spin-out Vaccitech would receive any royalties on the sale of the candidate, with these funds instead reinvested back into medical research, including new Pandemic Preparedness and Vaccine Research Centre currently in development with help from AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca is bound under the terms of the agreement to link up with its global partners to facilitate global distribution of the vaccine with a particular focus on making it accessible for low and middle income countries.

 “Our partnership with AstraZeneca will be a major force in the struggle against pandemics for many years to come. We believe that together we will be in a strong position to start immunising against coronavirus once we have an effective approved vaccine,” commented Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University. “Sadly, the risk of new pandemics will always be with us and the new research centre will enhance the world’s preparedness and our speed of reaction the next time we face such a challenge.”

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer at AstraZeneca, concurred, commenting: “As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent. This collaboration brings together the University of Oxford’s world-class expertise in vaccinology and AstraZeneca’s global development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities. 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.”

The new partnership is the first of its kind to emerge since the launch of the UK Government’s dedicated Vaccines Taskforce two weeks ago to discover, evaluate and deliver an effective vaccine for the virus. The government also injected £20 million into the University of Oxford’s vaccine research project.

UK Government Health Secretary Matt Hancock remarked on the news: “Across government, we are working night and day to stop the spread of coronavirus and protect our NHS. But in the long run, a vaccine remains our best hope of defeating this virus for good. So I am determined to do everything in my power to develop an effective vaccine and get it to the people of the UK as soon as possible. I want the UK to lead the world in developing a coronavirus vaccine - and I will back our scientists to the hilt in doing so.”

Matt Fellows

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