AstraZeneca 'on track' to roll out COVID-19 vaccine in September

File: Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available drug to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.

File: Hong Kong-listed CanSino Biologics said in a filing to the stock exchange that data from clinical trials showed the Chinese military vaccine had a "good safety profile" and potential to prevent disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

AFP/Mladen Antonov

LONDON - British pharma giant AstraZeneca is "on track" to begin rolling out up to two billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine in September if ongoing trials prove successful, its chief executive said on Friday.

The company is partnering with Oxford University, which has pioneered the vaccine, and is already manufacturing doses before seeking final regulatory approval once testing concludes in the coming months.  

"So far we're still on track... we are starting to manufacture this vaccine right now, and we have to have it ready to be used by the time we have the results," AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told BBC radio.

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"Our present assumption is that we will have the data by the end of the summer, by August, so in September we should know whether we have an effective vaccine or not."

The firm announced this week it had struck agreements with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Serum Institute of India to double production capacity of the COVID-19 vaccine to two billion doses.

The partnership with the Indian institute -- one of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers -- will help supply it to a large number of low- and middle-income countries.

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AstraZeneca has established separate supply chains for the vaccine in Europe, the United States, India and is also looking at setting up production in China, Soriot said.

He added AstraZeneca, which is undertaking the work on a non-profit basis, could lose money if trials prove disappointing.

But he said the company was sharing the financial risk with organisations such as CEPI.

"We're manufacturing indeed at risk -- and that's the only way to have the vaccine ready to go if it works," he added.

Source
AFP