AstraZeneca commits to supply Europe with 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidate

AstraZeneca plans to produce up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with deliveries to begin by the end of the year.

COVID-19 vaccine candidate

AstraZeneca has announced that it has reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply the continent with up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, now known as AZD1222), with deliveries starting by the end of 2020.

With the new agreement, the IVA aims to accelerate the supply of the vaccine and to make it available to other European countries that wish to participate in the initiative. 

AstraZeneca is now seeking to expand manufacturing capacity further and is open to collaborating with other companies to ensure it meets its commitment to support access to the vaccine at no profit during the pandemic.

AZD1222 uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of an adenovirus virus that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein. After vaccination, the surface S protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body. The vaccine was chosen to generate a strong immune response from a single dose and it is not replicating, so cannot cause an ongoing infection in the vaccinated individual. 

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca, said: “This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval. With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly. I would like to thank the governments of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands for their commitment and swift response.”

The company has also recently completed similar agreements with the UK, US, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance for 700 million doses and it agreed a licence with the Serum Institute of India for the supply of an additional one billion doses, principally for low- and middle-income countries. Total manufacturing capacity currently stands at two billion doses.

AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk.