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US donates $1 billion to Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for 300 million doses

Published on 01/06/20 at 10:34am
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

The US has given $1 billion to AstraZeneca to advance the development and production of the vaccine they are creating in collaboration with the Oxford University.

In return, the US expects 300 million doses of the vaccine to be made available by October, which is preparing to be tested in Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

This money is from the newly announced ‘Operation Warp Speed’, a US project to secure a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, headed up by Dr Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GSK’s vaccine division.

AstraZeneca has agreed a deal with Oxford Biomedica to speed up the vaccine’s production. As part of a one year deal, AstraZeneca will have access to Biomedica’s OxBox commercial manufacturing centre with the possibility of expanding the deal when the contract expires.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine contains the genetic material of COVID-19’s spike protein, which the company hopes can help the body to produce the protein and attack the virus upon infection.

Researchers hope to enrol 10,260 people in clinical trials overall. The Phase 1 trial tested 1000 patients but the data from it has not been released. The Phase 2 trial will enrol both children between 5 and 12 years old and adults over 56, while Phase 3 will limit enrolment to those over 18. Patients in both trials will be randomised and receive either one or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or a vaccine against meningococcal bacteria which will serve as the controlled variable.

Conor Kavanagh

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