AstraZeneca teams with Oxford University, enters COVID-19 vaccine race

AstraZeneca plans to leverage its global network to support production of an adenovirus vaccine vector (AAV) currently in Phase I trials against COVID-19.

Based on an adenovirus vaccine vector (AAV) and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 entered clinical trials in Oxford, UK last week.

Developed by the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford, trial material has been produced by the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility (CBF) for the Nuffield Department of Medicine and speaking last week, Catherine Green, who heads up the facility, said the next challenge is to scale up production for potentially millions of doses.

Image: iStock/stanciuc

Today this challenge has been ticked off, with Anglo-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca coming on board in a deal that sees it responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.

“The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have a longstanding relationship to advance basic research and we are hugely excited to be working with them on advancing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 around the world,” Mene Pangalos, EVP of BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca said. “We are looking forward to working with the University of Oxford and innovative companies such as Vaccitech, as part of our new partnership.”

Further details remain scarce, especially around manufacturing strategy going forward, but AstraZeneca spokesperson Angela Fiorin told us:

“Once we have further results on the potential success of this vaccine, we will be able to ensure our global manufacturing capacities, across our UK, US and China sites, are able to make the vaccine widely available.”

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