AZ aims to ship Oxford’s COVID vaccine from September using BARDA’s $1bn

AstraZeneca says $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will fund production of Oxford University’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

The Anglo-Swedish drug firm said it would begin production of the vaccine candidate – previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and now called AZD1222 – in the autumn.

It added that the BARDA funding will also support a support a Phase III trial involving 30,000 participants and a pediatric study.

Image: iStock/ISerg

AstraZeneca set the funding as part of an effort to increase capacity. The firm said it is collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organizations in a bid to make the vaccine “widely accessible around the world in an equitable manner.”

Partners include the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

AstraZeneca said it is in discussions with the Serum Institute of India and other potential partners to increase production and distribution.

It also said “expenses to progress the vaccine are anticipated to be offset by funding by governments.”

UK and US in September

AstraZeneca will start supplying the UK and the US with the vaccine in September.

CEO Pascal Soriot said, “We are so proud to be collaborating with Oxford University to turn their ground-breaking work into a medicine that can be produced on a global scale.

“We would like to thank the US and UK governments for their substantial support to accelerate the development and production of the vaccine. We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available.”

Clinical development

AZD1222 is an adenovirus vaccine vector (AAV) that contains the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It was developed by the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.

The vaccine entered a Phase I/II study last month.

Manufacture was carried out by the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility (CBF) at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, the UK Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), Pall Biotech, Cobra Biologics and Halix.

The University of Oxford announced AstraZeneca as a manufacturing partner at the end of April.