AstraZeneca & Oxford Uni announce landmark agreement for COVID-19 vaccine

Covid19

Global medical and biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have announced an agreement for the global development and distribution of the University’s potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine is currently under development at the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, the need for a vaccine to defeat the virus is urgent. This collaboration brings together the University of Oxford’s world-class expertise in vaccinology and AstraZeneca’s global development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities. Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalisation of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.”

Alok Sharma, UK Business Secretary, said: “This collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca is a vital step that could help rapidly advance the manufacture of a coronavirus vaccine. It will also ensure that, should the vaccine being developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute work, it will be available as early as possible, helping to protect thousands of lives from this disease.”

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “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. We are looking forward to working with the University of Oxford and innovative companies such as Vaccitech, as part of our new partnership.”

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: “Our partnership with AstraZeneca will be a major force in the struggle against pandemics for many years to come. We believe that together we will be in a strong position to start immunising against coronavirus once we have an effective approved vaccine. Sadly, the risk of new pandemics will always be with us and the new research centre will enhance the world’s preparedness and our speed of reaction the next time we face such a challenge.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: “Like my colleagues all across Oxford, I am deeply proud of the work of our extraordinarily talented team of academics in the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group. They represent the best tradition of research, teaching and contributing to the world around us, that has been the driving mission of the University of Oxford for centuries.

“Like people all across the country, we are wishing them success in developing an effective vaccine. If they are successful, our partnership with AstraZeneca will ensure that the British people and people across the world, especially in low and middle income countries, will be protected from this terrible virus as quickly as possible.”

The potential vaccine entered Phase I clinical trials last week in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across five trial centres in Southern England. Data from the Phase I trial could be available next month. Advancement to late-stage trials should take place by the middle of this year.

Developed at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, and working with the Oxford Vaccine Group, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 uses a viral vector based on a weakened version of the common cold (adenovirus) containing the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, which primes the immune system to attack COVID-19 if it later infects the body.

The recombinant adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1) 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. Vaccines made from the ChAdOx1 virus have been given to more than 320 people to date and have been shown to be safe and well tolerated, although they can cause temporary side effects such as a temperature, flu-like symptoms, headache or sore arm.

Yesterday, AstraZeneca delivered a quarter of strong revenue and profit growth, reflecting the immense efforts of supply-chain, commercial and other colleagues around the world to get vital medicines to patients. As part of the fight, the Company has rapidly responded to the pandemic, firstly in China and then globally.

The company reported total revenue growth of 16 per cent to $6,354 million.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, said:“Our focus ensured another quarter of strong growth across every therapy area and region. The new medicines performed extremely well, and our pipeline continued to deliver. Standouts included landmark news for Tagrisso, Farxiga and Koselugo, our latest oncology medicine. The progress made on all fronts provides confidence that we will, once again, meet our full-year commitments.

“I could not be prouder of how the AstraZeneca team has responded to the challenges of COVID-19. We moved quickly to maintain continuity of care, contribute to society, and use our scientific expertise to fight the pandemic. We hope our efforts to protect organs from damage, mitigate the cytokine storm and the associated hyperinflammatory state, and target the virus prove to be successful.”