AstraZeneca Plc has signed a contract with the European governments to deliver the potential coronavirus vaccine to the region. This is the UK pharmaceutical company's latest contract to mortgage its anti-pandemic drug.
The contract provides for up to 400 million doses of Oxford University-developed vaccine, the company said on Saturday, adding that it plans to expand vaccine production, which would not be profitable during the pandemic. The vaccine is still in clinical trials. If the trial results convince regulators that the vaccine is safe and effective, deliveries are expected to begin in late 2020.
The deal is the first contract signed by the European Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, to secure vaccine doses for all Member States as soon as possible.
"This will ensure that hundreds of millions of people in Europe have access to this vaccine, if it works, of course, and we'll know by the end of summer," Pascal Soriot, the company's managing director, told journalists. He said he had "good hope" that it will work based on early data.
The alliance "will work with the European Commission and other countries in Europe to ensure that everyone across Europe is provided with the vaccine," he said.
"We have a very self-sufficient supply chain for Europe," he said, among others in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Italy.
The vaccines apply to all EU member states. The four nations that agreed to the deal will pay the total amount that has not been released, and the system allows other countries to join on the same terms, a source from the Italian Ministry of Health said.
China, Brazil, Japan and Russia have also expressed interest, he said.
The UK regulator of medicines and health products (MHRA) has approved the start of phase III studies with the vaccine after studies have shown sufficient efficacy and safety, Soriot said.
At a meeting of the EU health ministers on Friday, the IVA agreed to merge its activities with those of the EU Commission, said the German Ministry of Health.
The deal is the latest from AstraZeneca, which promises to deliver its vaccine to governments that have sought to pre-purchase promising coronavirus immunization treatments.
The company has signed manufacturing agreements worldwide to achieve its goal of producing 2 billion doses of the vaccine, including two companies supported by Bill Gates and an agreement with the US government for $ 1.2 billion.
The deal will add another 100 million cans to the $ 2 billion the group has already committed to, AstraZeneca said.
There are no approved vaccines or treatments for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
"Many countries in the world have already secured vaccines, but Europe has not yet. The rapid, coordinated action of a group of Member States will create added value for all EU citizens in this crisis," said Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)