By Callum Keown
British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -0.37% has received more than $1 billion in U.S. funding to accelerate the development of Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine candidate.
The agreement would make 300 million doses of the vaccine available in the U.S., with the first doses delivered in October, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said on Thursday. The agreement between AstraZeneca and the U.S. Biomedical Research and Development Authority also includes a Phase 3 clinical trial in the U.S. this summer with 30,000 volunteers.
The U.S. has also supported vaccine efforts by Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -0.78% , France’s Sanofi /zigman2/quotes/206928357/delayed FR:SAN -1.30% and Johnson & Johnson /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ -0.61% , as part of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative.
AstraZeneca said it has now secured orders for 400 million doses and has the manufacturing capacity for 1 billion doses — the first of which could be delivered in September if the Oxford vaccine proves successful.
The project, being developed by clinical research teams at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group in the U.K., is currently in the human-trial stage. The university’s best-case scenario sees an efficacy result from a Phase 3 study by the fall, while initial signs of whether it is successful are expected by July.
The FTSE 100 company struck a partnership with Oxford University at the end of April to develop, manufacture and distribute the university’s experimental vaccine — if it works.
The U.K. is set to be given first access to the potential vaccine, as the British government said 30 million doses could be made available as early as September, as part of an agreement for 100 million doses. U.K. business secretary Alok Sharma committed a further £84 million of funding to the project on Sunday — on top of the £47 million already invested — adding that the Oxford efforts were “progressing well.”
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot thanked the U.S. and U.K. governments for their support on Thursday, which he said would accelerate the development and production of the vaccine.
“We need to defeat the virus together or it will continue to inflict huge personal suffering and leave long-lasting economic and social scars in every country around the world. We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available.”
The British drug maker also has a 7.7% stake in Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna, whose own experimental vaccine has been said to have had encouraging early results. Moderna’s stock has soared 275% so far this year, taking the value of AstraZeneca’s stake above $2 billion.